In a game that is heavily skewed in the favour of batsmen, it is a tough job being a bowler. The advent of modern day cricket has left the coterie of those whose job once was to inflict pain into a painstaking job. However, bowlers somehow keeps themselves relevant by waging a war against the men with the luxury of ever-thickening willows. And on the days when bowlers finish on top, they leave everybody in awe and bewilderment.
Even in the recently concluded Champions Trophy in England and Wales, there were some terrific spells of bowling, and here’s a look at the top five bowling performances:
Imran Tahir 4/27 v Sri Lanka, The Oval
The Sri Lankans were chasing 300 and got off to a flyer, thanks to some attacking batting by Niroshan Dickwella, supported by captain Upul Tharanga. Imran Tahir was introduced into the innings in the 18th over and he struck immediately. On the fifth ball of the over, Chamara Kapugedera was trapped in front, for a first-ball duck, as he failed to read Tahir’s googly. Later, the World No 2 bowler lived up to his billing by flummoxing Tharanga, Asela Gunaratne and fittingly took the final wicket of the match in Nuwan Pradeep. The leg-break bowler celebrated his team's victory and was also honoured with the Man of the Match award for his performance.
Mitchell Starc 4/29 v Bangladesh, Birmingham
Mitchell Starc, arguably one of the most complete bowlers of today's generation, ran through Bangladesh’s lower order to bowl them out for 182 from 181/6. After going wicketless in his earlier spells, the tearaway quick came back only to finish off the innings. He picked four wickets off nine balls in his final spell. Even though the wickets included Bangladesh’s lower order batsmen, barring the wicket of Tamim Iqbal, his lethal ability with the old ball was on display. Unfortunately for Starc and Australia, the match was called off due to rain.
Hasan Ali 3/24 v South Africa, Birmingham
At the epicenter of Pakistan’s sensational turnaround was 23-year old Hasan Ali. Ali’s substandard outing against India in the group fixture (1/70) reflected in Pakistan’s 124-run loss. However, picking three wickets apiece in the following four games saw him finish with 13 wickets in the tournament, four more than Josh Hazlewood, the second-highest wicket taker. Of course, Pakistan won the four games and Ali was picked as the Man of the Tournament. Pakistan’s resurrection began against South Africa, where the Punjab bowler got the better of Faf du Plessis, JP Duminy and Wayne Parnell. The peach that castled Parnell will remain etched in Ali and cricket fans' memories for a long time.
Mark Wood 4/33 v Australia, Birmingham
England’s fast bowler Mark Wood saved his best for arch-rivals Australia. His four-wicket haul comprised taking important wickets of David Warner, Steve Smith and Glenn Maxwell. Wood’s effective bowling, which was supported well by wrist-spinner Adil Rashid, applied brakes on the Australians' progress. With the timely wicket of Smith, Australia went from 181/3 in 32 overs to 277/9 in their 50 overs. Wood’s adept use of the cross-seamed deliveries eventually led to Australia’s downfall.
Mohammad Amir, 3/16 v India, The Oval
A bit of no-brainer here. Coming off an injury (back spasm) to break the spine of the high-flying Indian batting line-up in a final requires special effort. And Mohammad Amir is no ordinary bowler. By now, even Rohit Sharma must be choking up on his previously uttered words. Amir put the match to bed with his gobsmacking opening burst. India’s top three – Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit and Virat Kohli – were all in red-hot form, but bowed out thanks to Amir’s incredible fiery bowling. Before the start of the finals, India’s batting triumvirate was on top of its game, while the Pakistani quick was on the other end of the spectrum. With only two wickets to his name from his 169 deliveries striking once in nearly every 85 balls, he was written off as a shadow of his past. But, an inspired Amir roared in the summit clash to engrave his name in one of the most glorious days of Pakistan cricket.
Updated Date: Jun 20, 2017 14:36:50 IST