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2000s in Review

Wisden’s T20 spells of the 2000s, Nos.5-1

by Freddie Wilde 5 minute read

As part of the 2000s in Review series, CricViz analyst Freddie Wilde picked out Wisden’s T20 spells of the 2000s. Here are the five bowling performances to make the cut, while his honourable mentions can be found here.

No.5: Umar Gul 5-6

New Zealand v Pakistan, Group F, T20 World Cup 2009
The Oval, London
June 13, 2009

Umar Gul is one of the most underrated cricketers in T20 history. Before Lasith Malinga, no bowler was more potent at the death than the Pakistani, who combined good pace, yorkers and reverse swing expertly. In the 2009 T20 World Cup Pakistan were facing a must-win match against New Zealand when Gul pulled out his finest performance.


No.4: Shane Warne 3-19

Rajasthan Royals v Kings XI Punjab, IPL 2008
Sawai Mansingh Stadium, Jaipur
April 21, 2008

This was only Shane Warne’s fourth T20 match and his second since 2005. After losing their opening match of the season Warne’s spell-binding bowling display was integral to Rajasthan registering their first win of their campaign that would ultimately end with Warne lifting the trophy for the team who had spent less money than all others at the inaugural auction.


No.3: Sohail Tanvir 6-14

Rajasthan Royals v Chennai Super Kings, IPL 2008
Sawai Mansingh Stadium, Jaipur
May 4, 2008

Warne may have been the central strategic figure to Rajasthan’s iconic 2008 title-run but their most impactful players were Shane Watson with the bat and Sohail Tanvir with the ball. Early wickets are so valuable in T20 and this match against Chennai illustrated that perfectly. After winning the toss and opting to bat Chennai’s top order was gutted by a spectacular display of swing bowling from the left-armer who removed Parthiv Patel with the first ball of the match, Stephen Fleming with the fourth and Vidyut Sivaramakrishnan with the 12th.


No.2: RP Singh 4-13

India v South Africa, T20 World Cup 2007
Kingsmead, Durban
September 20, 2007

Left-arm quicks are popular in the powerplay because their angle across the right-hander means even when there’s no swing movement they challenge both edges of the bat. When there is swing movement then they are even more deadly. In this 2007 World Cup match against South Africa RP Singh found the precious sweet-spot of swing movement and accuracy in a superb display of powerplay bowling. Defending a below-par total of 153 India needed early wickets and Singh provided them, setting up an emphatic Indian victory on their path to their epoch-defining World Cup win.

No.1: Shoaib Akhtar 4-11

Kolkata Knight Riders v Delhi Daredevils, IPL 2008
Eden Gardens, Kolkata
May 13, 2008

In almost every respect the IPL has got bigger and better since 2008 but this is arguably one of the league’s most special moments, particularly so with there no longer being any Pakistani presence in the league. 60,000 Indians were feverishly behind one of Pakistan’s greatest fast bowlers, urging him on as he removed India’s current opening pair and tore through Delhi’s top order.


Freddie Wilde is the author of Cricket 2.0: Inside the T20 Revolution, the Wisden Book of the Year 2020

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