Even though cricket, and especially T20 cricket is widely regarded as a batter’s game due to the explosive nature of the format, every once in a while bowlers rise to the challenge and produce magical performances that leave the opposition in tangles and the audience spellbound.

What makes these bowling performances all the more brilliant is the fact that bowlers just get four overs to make their mark and stamp their authority in the T20 format. 

Not only are bowlers expected to stem the flow of runs during their four-over spells, but they are also expected to get a few breakthroughs in the limited time that they get to make an impact with the ball.

While not many bowlers have managed to make a big impact with the ball in T20 cricket, there are a few select players who have done so by registering the best bowling figures in T20 history.

Malaysia seamer Syazrul Idrus is the record holds the honour of registering the best bowling figures in T20 cricket. He did so while representing Malaysia against China in the opening game of the ICC T20 World Cup Asia B Qualifier 2023 and is the only player to take seven wickets in a men’s T20I game.

Netherlands all-rounder Colin Ackermann also took seven wickets in a T20 game. He did so while representing Leicestershire against Birmingham Bears in the 2019 T20 Blast and is the first player to take seven wickets in a men’s T20 game.

Here, we have a look at a few of the top bowling performances in T20 cricket.

Best bowling figures in T20

Player Bowling Figures Team Opposition Year
Syazrul Idrus 7/8 Malaysia China 2023
Colin Ackermann 7/18 Leicestershire Birmingham Bears 2019
Arul Suppiah 6/5 Somerset Glamorgan 2011
Peter Aho 6/5 Nigeria  Sierra Leonne 2021
Shakib Al Hasan 6/6 Barbados Tridents Trinidad & Tobago Red Steel 2013
Lasith Malinga 6/7 Melbourne Stars Perth Scorchers 2012
Kyle Jamieson 6/7 Canterbury Auckland 2019
Deepak Chahar 6/7 India Bangladesh 2019
Dinesh Nakrani 6/7 Uganda Lesotho 2021
Ajantha Mendis 6/8 Sri Lanka Zimbabwe 2012

Syazril Idrus' 7/8 vs China

In the opening match of the ICC T20 World Cup Asia B Qualifier 2023, China squared off against Malaysia and the former opted to bat first after winning the toss. However, little did they know what was to follow as Malaysia's Syazrul Idrus ripped through the Chinese batters and finished with figures of 7/8 - the best-ever in T20s - as China managed to post just 23 on the scoreboard. Syazrul was unplayable on the day and all his seven scalps came courtesy of him rattling the batters' wickets. Malaysia chased down the target comfortably inside just five overs.

Colin Ackermann’s 7/18 vs Birmingham Bears

Colin Ackermann produced the best-ever bowling figures in T20 cricket in a 2019 T20 Blast encounter. His team Leicestershire had won the toss, electing to bat first and set a target of 190 for Birmingham Bears to chase. However, Ackermann came up with a magical spell of 7/18 in his four overs to completely derail the Bears’ chase, eventually bundling them out for 134 to help Leicestershire win the match by 55 runs. Ackermann clean bowled three opposition players besides also taking a caught and bowled. His reaming three scalps were all caught-out dismissals. The Dutchman’s right-arm off breaks earned him the Player of the Match award.

Arul Suppiah’ 6/5 vs Glamorgan

An opening batter by trade, England’s Arul Suppiah surprised one and all with the ball in hand while representing Somerset against Glamorgan in a Friends Life T20 encounter in 2011. Somerset won the toss and elected to field first before bundling out Glamorgan for a mere 98. The wrecker-in-chief from Somerset’s bowling department was Arul Suppiah, who finished with stunning figures of 6/5 from just 3.4 overs. Suppiah’s slow left-arm orthodox spin saw him run through Glamorgan’s middle and lower middle order in what was a Player of the Match performance by him. Somerset eventually won the match by five wickets.

Peter Aho’s 6/5 vs Sierra Leonne 

Nigerian right-arm fast-medium bowler Peter Aho also produced a spell of 6/5 from 3.4 overs in the fifth match of a six-match T20I series against Sierra Leonne in 2021. After winning the toss and electing to bat first, Nigeria found themselves on the back foot when they were all out for just 90. However, Peter Aho came to Nigeria’s rescue with a sensational spell that saw him dismantle Sierra Leonne’s top order. Five of his six scalps were out bowled, while one was dismissed after being trapped in front of the stumps. His performance helped Nigeria win the match by 19 runs and take a 4-1 lead in the six-match series.

Photo credit: Alamy