The balance of play in cricket often favours batsmen over bowlers, who are frequently reduced to playing supporting acts on flat pitches designed to entertain audiences. As spectators vociferously cheer on those with the willow in their hands and hope for boundaries, bowlers are left with the unenviable and hapless task of keeping a lid of proceedings. That said, there are a few occasions when bowlers rose to the challenge against all odds and left an indelible mark on the match.
Here, we have a look at five of the best bowling performances in T20s.
Colin Ackermann created history in August last year when he finished with figures of 7-18 in a 55-run win for Leicestershire over Birmingham Bears in the Vitality Blast. The Bears looked on course to chase down a target of 190 but Ackermann had other ideas and began his record-breaking feat at the start of the 15th over, having already taken a wicket earlier.
A pair of three-wicket overs, first in the 15th over and then in the 17th, turned the game in his team’s favour after the Bears were 118-3 at one stage. He conceded two runs in the 15th over and three in the 17th as he created history with the final ball of his spell.
Another spinner who had recorded the best T20 bowling figures before Ackermann was Somerset’s Arul Suppiah. The slow left-arm orthodox bowler produced a game-changing spell that saw him take six wickets for five runs in 22 balls. His devastating spell of spin reduced Glamorgan from 72-4 to 98 all out. Playing on a spin-friendly pitch, Suppiah followed former India international Murali Kartik into the bowling attack and produced a spell that the opposition batsmen had no answers for.
Shakib Al Hasan
The Bangladesh all-rounder was in inspired form when Barbados Tridents beat Trinidad & Tobago Red Steel in August 2013. While Shakib Al Hasan has won more matches with his bat, it would be disingenuous to suggest that he won games solely with willow in hand. Considered among the best all-rounders of the modern era, he’s had more than his fair share of match-winning performances with the ball.
One of his best bowling performances came in Barbados Tridents’ colours as he ran through the Trinidad & Tobago Red Steel’s batting line-up to finish with figures of 6-6. After Jason Holder dismissed two of the top three opposition batsmen, it was the Shakib Al Hasan show as he proceeded to get rid of the next six batsmen in his four overs.
Perhaps the most dangerous T20 bowler of his era, Lasith Malinga has had innumerable game-defining performances during his stellar career. However, very few of his T20 performances rank higher than his spell of 6-7 against Perth Scorchers. Spearheading the Melbourne Stars’ bowling attack at the time, Malinga’s Man of the Match display witnessed him being used sparingly by captain Shane Warne.
After earning the early breakthrough, the Sri Lankan legend was held back for the middle overs and showed his mastery in the art of deception in the final overs as well. His magical spell reduced Perth to 69 all out and set up a 24-run win via the Duckworth-Lewis method.
Medium pacer Kyle Jamieson set a T20 record for a New Zealander when he picked up 6 wickets for just 7 runs against Auckland Aces in January last year. He claimed the wickets of England international James Vince, Sean Solia, Mark Chapman, Ronnie Hira, Mitchell McClenaghan and Benjamin Lister, besides also playing a role in running out Auckland dangerman Glenn Phillips. His spell helped Canterbury Kings successfully chase 111 with five wickets and 14 balls to spare.
Feature image courtesy: Twitter / @leicsccc