The One Day International (ODI) cricket bowling chart has just three spinners in the top 10 highest wicket-takers in the format's history. Yet, the middle overs have been owned by the spinners since time immemorial, and choking batsmen for runs to eke out wickets has been their strategy on most occasions.
Here, we take a glance at the spinners with most wickets in ODIs.
Muttiah Muralitharan (534)
Spin wizard Muttiah Muralitharan tops the wickets charts in ODI cricket with a whopping 534 scalps in 350 matches. With close to 19,000 balls bowled in the format, longevity has indeed helped Muralitharan stay on top but his numbers are impressive nonetheless. He has 25 hauls of four wickets or more and an average of 23.08 as an ODI bowler.
Shahid Afridi (395)
Often known for his batting, Shahid Afridi was a bowling all-rounder and nothing emphasises this as much as his 395 ODI wickets. A terrific leg-spinner with a slew of variations, Afridi was a natural wicket-taker in the format and had an average of 34.5 with 13 hauls of four wickets or more.
Even when Pakistan had the likes of Saqlain Mushtaq and Mushtaq Ahmed, Afridi remains the best in the business for them over the years.
Anil Kumble (337)
Nippy leg-break bowler Anil Kumble was a revelation in the mid-90s and early 2000s. A leg-spinner with a difference, Kumble knew how to keep the leash on batsmen and was pretty smart in being deceptive.
He finished his ODI career in 2007 with 337 wickets in 271 games at an average of 30.89 with 10 hauls of four wickets or more.
Sanath Jayasuriya (323)
The swashbuckling Sri Lankan opener was also a fine left-arm spinner who could chip in with handy overs and find breakthroughs. He bowled close to 15,000 balls in 445 ODI games and finished with 323 wickets at an average of 36.75, with 12 hauls of four wickets or more.
Jayasuriya didn't have too many variations but possessed a clear knack of picking up wickets by changing his angle and pace.
Daniel Vettori (305)
New Zealand spinner Daniel Vettori is one of the only five spinners in ODI cricket to finish with 300-plus wickets in the format.
Vettori was more steady than a brilliant spinner but had an uncanny ability to establish himself over the batsmen and it led to 305 scalps in 295 games at an average of 31.71, with 10 hauls of four wickets or more.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / William West