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2020 in Review

2020 in Review: Wisden’s ODI spells of the year

Ben Gardner by Ben Gardner
@Ben_Wisden 4 minute read

Wisden’s ODI spells of the year, part of the 2020 in Review series, as picked by a panel of Wisden.com writers.

Wisden’s ODI spells of the year, No.5: Lungi Ngidi 6-58

South Africa v Australia
Mangaung Oval, Bloemfontein
2nd ODI, March 4

Having claimed three economical wickets in the first ODI against Australia to help give South Africa a 1-0 lead, Lungi Ngidi played the starring role in the second game to seal the series. He claimed the first three wickets to fall, putting a halt on a fast start, before returning to tear through the tail. This was, in a way, a new-age six-for. Ngidi didn’t raze Australia with hostile fast bowling. Instead he bowled to his field, induced attacking shots, and let his fielders do the rest.

Wisden’s ODI spells of the year, No.4: Adam Zampa 4-54

Australia v India
Sydney Cricket Ground
1st ODI, November 27

Even though they ended up 66 runs shy of Australia’s first-innings total, India were still threatening to make a game of it deep into their chase in the first ODI. Shikhar Dhawan and Hardik Pandya had put on a century stand to help haul the tourists up from 101-4, and with 16 overs to go, they needed just over nine an over to win on an excellent batting wicket. With plenty of overs from Australia’s prime pace trio to be bowled, it seemed India would need to attack Adam Zampa. But doing so would prove their undoing, with the leg-spinner holding his nerve to show exactly why he’s rated as one of the world’s best in this format.

His last six overs contained just one boundary, with Dhawan dismissed early on after attempting to dance down, Pandya finding long-on after failing to get underneath a flatter delivery, and Ravindra Jadeja also falling in the outfield.

Wisden’s ODI spells of the year, No.3: Josh Hazlewood 3-26

England v Australia
Emirates Old Trafford, Manchester
1st ODI, September 11

It’s a mystery that only gets more puzzling by the spell: Why was Josh Hazlewood left out of Australia’s 2019 World Cup squad? Against England, defending a total just under 300 – the kind Eoin Morgan’s side normally gobble up in their sleep – he showed exactly why his Test-made approach is just as valuable in the 50-over format.

His control was absolute – only Nepal’s Sushan Bhari bowled a more economical 10-over spell this year – and while his dismissal of Jason Roy was his most eye-catching as he grabbed a stunning catch in his follow-through, it was the Joe Root wicket that will have most pleased the purists. England’s most technically sound batsman was comprehensively beaten, even while trying to defend, with a nibble of away movement finding the outside edge on its way to the keeper.

Wisden’s ODI spells of the year, No.2: Jofra Archer 3-32

England v Australia
Emirates Old Trafford, Manchester
2nd ODI, September 13

In perhaps the year’s most incredible ODI – at different points England were 149-8 and Australia were 144-2, and yet it was the former who emerged triumphant – it was a bowler who has so far found greater success in ODI cricket than in Tests who did the most to turn the game England’s way, and yet he did it with a spell that wouldn’t have been out of place in any five-dayer.

Defending 232, Jofra Archer cranked up the pace from the off, twisting David Warner in knots with a lifter to earn an edge behind, pinging Aaron Finch on the helmet, and flummoxing Marcus Stoinis with an even better bouncer. Still, despite Archer’s burst Australia recovered, and instead of saving him for the death, Eoin Morgan was forced to through the ball to his star man once more. In his ninth over, he struck again, Mitch Marsh chopping on. Archer finished with a maiden, Chris Woakes burst through the opening Archer had forced, and England won a match they had no right to.

Wisden’s ODI spells of the year, No.1: Blessing Muzarabani 5-49 & 2-2

Pakistan v Zimbabwe
Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium
3rd ODI, November 3

Wins against the world’s top sides don’t come along very often for Zimbabwe. Coming into the last of three ODIs against Pakistan, they had lost 19 games against the teams ranked 1-9 in the ICC ODI rankings, with their last win coming more than two and a half years ago, against Sri Lanka in January 2018.

Sean Williams’ century set Pakistan a challenging 279 to win, and Blessing Muzarabani, playing his first international series since 2018 after signing on as a Kolpak at Northamptonshire, set the tone straight away. He bowled Imam-ul-Haq with a beauty through the gate to set in motion a slide Pakistan just couldn’t halt.

However, as Babar Azam did his thing, it seemed Zimbabwe were to be denied once more. 88-5 became 161-5, and though Muzarabani nicked off Khushdil Shah, a half-century from Wahab Riaz brought Pakistan within 28 runs of their total. It was Muzarabani who forced Wahab to hole out, and though Babar struck him for a four and a six in his next three balls, the youngster bounced back spectacularly, taking wickets with the final two balls of his spell to leave Pakistan needing 13 to win off the final over with one wicket in hand.

He could only watch as Mohammad Musa hit the first and last balls of the 50th over for four to tie the game, but come the super over, Blessing would be Pakistan’s curse once more. In four balls he conceded two runs and claimed two wickets, bringing the mini-innings to a premature halt. Having waited so long for their chance, Zimbabwe weren’t going to let this one go. They had a prodigal, prodigious bowler to thank for ending their drought.

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