As part of Wisden’s 1990s in Review series, Yas Rana looks at the ODI bowling performances chosen to be the fifth to second-best of the decade.
No.2: Wasim Akram 3-49
Pakistan v England
1992 World Cup Final, Melbourne
A performance that turned a World Cup final in his country’s direction. Eventually adjudged Player of the Match – partly due to his contribution with the bat, too – Wasim set the tone of Pakistan’s defence of 250 right from the off, dismissing Ian Botham for nought in his second over.
England jittered, losing all of Gooch, Stewart and Hick for less than 30; at 69-4 in the 21st over, Pakistan were in the driving seat. Neil Fairbrother – England’s batsman of the tournament – and Allan Lamb then threatened to wrest back control of the contest, motoring along at a decent rate. But just as England battled back, a two-ball burst from Wasim snatched away any realistic hopes they had left.
First to Lamb, Akram delivered one that held its line from around the wicket, sneaking past the batsman’s outside edge to rattle into the stumps. Lamb didn’t get close to it. He followed that delivery with another gem, this time to the unfortunate Chris Lewis facing his first ball of the final. This time, Akram got the ball to move the other way, starting wide, then swinging into Lewis who, like Lamb, was beaten all ends up. Few bowlers have ever possessed the skill required to execute a pair of deliveries like that, swinging in opposite directions, in consecutive balls when it mattered so much.
No.3: Aaqib Javed 7-37
Pakistan v India
1991 Willis Cup Final, Sharjah
A devastating spell from one of the under-appreciated cogs of Pakistan’s World Cup-winning machine the following year. Javed took seven of the first eight India wickets to fall – the other was a run out – as he blitzed through an impressive line-up. His victims? Shastri, Sidhu, Manjrekar, Azhuruddin, Tendulkar, Dev and Prabhakar with Manjrekar, Azharuddin and Tendulkar all falling lbw in consecutive balls to form men’s ODI cricket’s seventh ever hat-trick.
The video of the hat-trick is quite something. Henry Blofeld shouting over a raucous Sharjah crowd, commentating with a camera angle that’s more long-on than behind the bowler’s arm.
No. 4: Anil Kumble 6-12
India v West Indies
1993 Hero Cup Final, Kolkata
As a white-ball bowler, Anil Kumble was arguably ahead of his time. A tall wrist-spinner who wasn’t afraid of either zipping it through or giving it air, Kumble was a precursor to the current fleet of quick, flat, leg-spinners that we see in T20 leagues around the world.
In this performance – another that decided a final – Kumble showed off all his tricks. Varying his pace, flight and the spin he imparted on the ball, Kumble ran through the West Indies lower-order to finish with remarkable figures of 6-12.
No.5: Glenn McGrath 5-14
Australia v West Indies
1999 World Cup, Manchester
A vintage Glenn McGrath new-ball spell, one that reduced West Indies to 20-3 in an innings that would see them eventually crawl to 110 from 46.4 overs. There was something masterful in all three of McGrath’s new-ball dismissals.
Sherwin Campbell was caught unawares by one that reared off a length with Mark Waugh taking an excellent catch low to his right at second slip. Next ball, McGrath pitched it slightly fuller to the new man Jimmy Adams, getting it to jag back in ever so slightly from over the wicket to wrap Adams on the front pad – two in two for McGrath.
The crowning moment though was the delivery to Brian Lara; it is no exaggeration to say that it essentially acts as the model delivery for a right-arm seamer to a left-handed batsman. Pitching on middle-and-leg, swinging away and kissing the top of off-stump after beating Lara’s defence, it was near enough the perfect ball.
McGrath cleaned up tail-enders Mervyn Dillon and Courtney Walsh to pick up a five-wicket haul but above else, it’s that delivery to Lara that should live long in the memory.