They often say batsmen win you games but bowlers win you tournaments.
Since the first-ever T20 World Cup back in 2007, the world’s best bowlers of the shortest format have showcased their skills on the highest stage of all, taking wickets while also looking to keep those runs down.
From the wily twirlers to the real speed merchants, these are the bowlers who have left their mark on the tournament over the years.
We’re about to list the top 5 and if online cricket betting is your thing, then these players are good choices for the top bowler market too!
That Afridi’s nickname throughout his whole career was ‘Boom Boom’ tells you that he was mostly known for his ferocious hitting with the bat.
He would think nothing of trying to hit every ball for a towering six, whether it was the first ball he was facing, the 10th, or the last of the innings.
But what people sometimes forget is that there were several stages to Afridi’s career.
By the time T20 came about he was no longer a specialist batsman or even a batting all-rounder, but rather primarily a specialist leg spin bowler who batted down the order and often celebrated his wickets with his best Starfish/Starman impression.
In the first match for his side, he took 4-19 against Scotland, earning him the man-of-the-match award.
In the famous match against India that ended in a tie, he took another two. And then in the first of the Super 6 matches against Sri Lanka, he took another three.
And he carried on adding to his tally of scalps, all the way to the final.
In the big one against India he finally failed to take a wicket, a big factor perhaps in why they lost.
But though he ended up on the losing side, he was still voted Player of the Tournament for his 12 wickets in 7 matches, going at just 6.71 an over, to go with some runs here and there.
At the next World Cup in England in 2009, he did end up on the winning side this time, chipping in with another 11 wickets in seven games, at an even better economy rate of 5.92.
He was man-of-the-match in both the semi against South Africa and the final against Sri Lanka, although that was admittedly more down to his batting than bowling.
Even so, he took three wickets across those two matches, too.
Over the next few World Cups his fizzy, spitting leg spin darts weren’t quite as effective as in those first two editions.
But he carried on taking wickets and his 39 in World Cups were a record for a while, before eventually being beaten by Shakib Al-Hasan during the 2021 edition.
It’s not so easy to be the team’s best player by a country mile because the pressure is always on you to save the day.
A lesson that Bangladesh’s Shakib Al-Hasan knows only too well.
Given Bangladesh’s poor record in this tournament, there weren’t too many instances of him saving the day as such. But Shakib certainly tried his best.
An ever-present in the World Cup since 2007, he’s carried on doing his thing ever since then: four overs per match of probing, accurate, attacking of the stumps, forcing batsmen into mistakes.
Bangladesh are yet to make a semi-final in the competition in seven attempts but Shakib’s persistence and longevity have been rewarded on an individual level.
Three times he’s taken four wickets in a match and he once took 4/9.
It means that in total he has 41 World Cup wickets, the most of anyone. And he’ll surely have a few more by the time the 2022 edition has come to a close.
Boom Boom Afridi may have ended the 2007 World Cup as Player of the Tournament but it was actually his team-mate Umar Gul who was the competition's leading wicket-taker that year, trumping the 12 of Afridi (and Stuart Clark and RP Singh) with 13 of his own.
And while Afridi went at an already superb 6.7 an over, Gul was even better, conceding just 5.6 an over for the tournament.
And like Afridi, he was an extremely important member of the Pakistan side that followed a runner-up finish in 2007 with the title in 2009.
As it happens, he had quiet games in the semi and final but his importance to the cause was in evidence in a crucial match before those.
Pakistan had started the second Group Stages with a loss to Sri Lanka and knew that defeat to New Zealand would pretty much see them crashing out.
Bowling first, Umar Gul was at his gallivanting best, resembling a racehorse charging in with his weird run-up and finding reverse swing when no one else could.
In one of the greatest spells of bowling ever seen in T20, he took 5-6 off just three overs as New Zealand were all out for just 99. Pakistan never looked back after that.
His 35 wickets in World Cups put him in joint-sixth place.
When West Indies won two World Cups in three editions, only one man was a specialist bowler for the Windies in both finals: Samuel Badree.
A quiet, understated man who was probably the first specialist T20 spinner to regularly open the bowling, he was perhaps the least flamboyant member of the side.
But his value was certainly in evidence in both those finals.
In the 2012 one against Sri Lanka, his four overs went for just sixteen runs and were vital in Sri Lanka not getting off to a fast start. He only took one wicket but it was that of the big fish, Kumar Sangakarra.
In the 2016 final it was England in the Windies’ way and the ever-reliable Badree wasn’t in the mood to disappoint.
Bowling once again in the Powerplay overs, he dismissed opener, Jason Roy, for nought off two balls and came back to also get rid of England skipper Eoin Morgan.
His figures for the match were a typically impressive 2-16 off four as he once again played his part in a World Cup win.
If this article was to be written in 10 years’ time, Rashid Khan would almost certainly be the outright top wicket-taker in the competition’s history.
With 19 so far from two appearances at World Cups, he’s still got some way to go.
But he’ll keep on climbing up those charts because what’s key is his strike rate.
Those 19 wickets came from just 12 matches, meaning his strike rate of 6.36 is right up there with the very best.
Like Shakib, he’s unlikely to taste glory anytime soon because Afghanistan just don’t have the playing resources other countries do in order to mount serious challenges for the title.
But any team who has Rashid has a chance.
Take the match against Pakistan at the 2021 World Cup.
Chasing 148, Pakistan were going well in reply.
He bowled Pakistan skipper and dangerman, Babar Azam, for 51 and then also got the experienced Mohammed Hafeez to have Pakistan in real trouble as the leg spinner ended with figures of 2-26.
His best figures in a World Cup match are 4/9. And whereas the team silverware may not be coming his way anytime soon, the personal milestones certainly will.
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