10 of the best overs ever bowled in cricket history
Once in a while, we come across a spectacular moment in a cricket field. It may be a brilliant catch, a marvellous run-out, or a superb-looking stroke. And when bowlers are successful in executing plans against specific batsman to perfection, we get some breathtaking overs.
Throughout history, there have been overs and spells that have known to change the course of a match. But the art of setting up a batsman is no ordinary skill. It demands a lot of practice, patience and professionalism on the part of the bowler.
On that note, let's take a look at the 10 of the best overs ever bowled, across formats, in cricket history.
Note: The list is in no particular order.
#1: Irfan Pathan vs Pakistan (Karachi, 2006)
At the peak of his career, there was no stopping Irfan Pathan. The inswinging deliveries to right-handers coupled with fiery pace made Pathan almost impossible to handle and score runs against.
It was what happened in Karachi in the first over of the third Test of India's tour of Pakistan in 2006. Under cloudy conditions, Pathan opened the bowling to Salman Butt. The left-armer found movement in the air and off the deck.
After defending the first ball, the left-hander left the next two alone. Pathan gained more confidence in the lengths to bowl on the surface. However, what transpired next was probably not what the left-armer had ever dreamt of.
Off the fourth ball of the over, Butt played a defensive shot and nicked one to the slips. Pakistan were one down with no runs on the board. Out walked captain Younis Khan to the crease. The right-hander received a snorter of delivery first up. A full one that swung late and straightened caught Khan plumb in front as he played the wrong line. The hosts were two down with still no runs on the board.
It was to get worse still. On course to become only the second Indian to bag a Test hat-trick, Pathan bowled a similar delivery to Mohammad Yousuf, another right-hander. The left-armer's late inswing crashed through Yousuf's defences and rattled the stumps. In the process, Pathan joined Harbhajan Singh as the only Indian players to bag Test match hat-tricks.
It also marked the first instance of a hat-trick in the first over of a Test match.
#2: Shaun Tait vs Pakistan (Melbourne, 2009/10)
If you are an opposition player, you would certainly not want to face a fired-up Shaun Tait on a pacy track in front of a jam-packed MCG.
An in-form Pakistan faced Australia in a T20 encounter in Melbourne. Chasing a modest target of 128 runs, Pakistan knew it wasn't going to be a cake-walk. Tait walked in with a reputation and luxury to bowl fast. Imran Farhat took the first strike amid some Aussie chirps around the bat.
Tait bowled a good length ball which bounced off the surface and was grabbed by Brad Haddin around shoulder height. It felt as if the entire stadium followed Haddin's look at the big screen. The delivery was bowled at 156.3 kmph.
But little did Farhat know that the first delivery wasn't the fastest that came his way. Soon the crowd got behind Tait. People could sense faster balls coming from the pacer.
Five of the seven deliveries bowled by Tait in that over were recorded at above 155 kmph. The third delivery hit the 160 kmph-mark. There weren't any wickets taken, but the control shown by Tait in bowling such pacy deliveries put everyone in awe.
Speeds in Kmph- 156.3 , 159.0, 160.7, 150.5, 156.9, 155.1, 156.4.
#3: Michael Holding vs England (Barbados, 1981)
Termed as the 'Over of the century' by many experts, Michael Holding's spell against Geoffrey Boycott in the 1981 Barbados Test still sends shivers down the spine.
Holding had Boycott beaten twice, edged once and finally ripped out the stumps on the last ball of the over. How Holding operated was pretty intense and deadly accurate. He was extracting pace and bounce off the deck and seemed to bowl quicker with each passing ball.
A couple of body blows put Boycott on the backfoot before a faster one saw the Englishman's stumps go cartwheeling.
#4: Charl Langeveldt Vs West Indies (Barbados, 2005)
Twenty-four years later at the same venue but in a different format, Barbados experienced another sensational over.
In an ODI between West Indies and South Africa, chasing 285, the hosts, with three wickets in hand, needed to score four runs off the last over to win the match. Charl Langeveldt was the bowler for South Africa. Ian Bradshaw and Dwayne Bravo were the men at the crease for the West Indies.
Two runs off the first two balls meant that the equation petered down to two runs off four balls. The hosts were on the cusp of victory. But Langeveldt had other ideas. Off the next two deliveries, the right-armer bowled Bradshaw and Daren Powell respectively. And then the last man Corey Collymore was trapped plumb in front of the wicket by an inswinger as South Africa sealed a sensational win with a ball to spare.
Bravo, at the other end, remained high and dry on an unbeaten 20. The right-hander was albeit a touch fortunate at not being run-out going for a non-existent single off the second ball of the over.
#5: Lasith Malinga vs South Africa (Guyana, 2007)
In a crucial super-eight encounter between Sri Lanka and South Africa in the 2007 World Cup, Lasith Malinga nearly pulled off an incredible win for his team. Requiring less than 15 runs to win, with five wickets in hand and six overs to go in Barbados, South Africa looked like the overwhelming favourites.
In came Malinga looking for some bonus wickets as a defeat loomed large for Sri Lanka. However, the slinger bluffed the next four South African batsmen off four consecutive balls to set up a grandstand finish.
Malinga bowled Shaun Pollock with a yorker, before taking out Andrew Hall by a slow yorker as the batsman spooned a catch to cover. Jacques Kallis was then bowled for 86 as the Sri Lankan completed a World Cup hat-trick. But the damage wasn't complete yet. Malinga then rattled Makhaya Ntini's stumps off another yorker to bring the South African number 11 to the crease.
South Africa were imploding spectacularly, but Robin Petersen made sure his team went past their target by the narrowest of margins. The match, however, would be remembered by Malinga's four wickets off four balls that grabbed the highlight reels.
#6: Mitchell Johnson vs England (The Ashes, 2013/14)
It was the Mitchell Johnson show in the memorable 2013-14 Ashes series. The left armer's fiery spells were a perfect concoction of pace, bounce, and deadly stare back to the batsman.
In the second Test of that series in Adelaide, Australia piled up a massive 570 runs on the board. In reply, England lost Alaister Cook early but began to find their teeth into the contest by forging together few partnerships. All of that changed, though, in the 50th over of the visitors' innings bowled by Johnson.
The left-armer bowled a full ball that beat Ben Stokes for pace. Initially given not out, the call was overturned on review. An out-of-form Matt Prior arrived at the crease. Johnson greeted him with a full ball before bowling consecutive bouncers which Prior left alone. However, the next one from Johnson was a fuller delivery which the English wicket-keeper nicked behind.
Stuart Broad was then cleaned up by a fiery length ball that beat the left-hander for sheer pace. Johnson took 7/40 in that innings and ended up as the Player of the Series.
#7: Mohammad Amir vs Australia (ICC World Twenty20 West Indies, 2010)
It was better late than never for Mohammad Amir against Australia in the sixth match of the ICC World Twenty20 in the West Indies in 2010. The left-armer bowled the last over of the innings, with the Australian total reading 191-5 at the end of the 19th over.
Brad Haddin swung his bat and was caught at third man by Mohammad Sami. Off the next ball, Mitchell Johnson could not bring the ball down in time as the middle stump was rattled. Although a hat-trick would elude Amir, Pakistan earned a team hat-trick by running out Michael Hussey. Sami bowled a yorker which Steve Smith failed to make contact with. Attempting to steal a bye, Hussey could not beat the throw of an alert Kamran Akmal.
The fourth ball of the over saw another wicket, another runout to be more specific. In a near carbon copy of the previous delivery, Dirk Nannes could not find a bat on ball to another Amir yorker. This time it was Smith who was run-out by Akmal as Australia lost four wickets off as many balls.
Sami bowled yet another yorker to Shaun Tait who missed but did not attempt to take a bye. The number 11 was bowled off the next delivery as Australia collapsed from 191-5 to 191 all out in the space of an over. Despite Amir's heroics, though, Pakistan lost the match by 34 runs.
#8 Andrew Flintoff vs Australia (The Ashes, 2005)
Ricky Ponting recently referred to Andrew Flintoff's spell in the 2005 Ashes series as the most fierce the former has ever faced in his career. Flintoff's heroics with the bat, ball, and in the field in that series was instrumental in England winning a memorable Ashes series 2-1.
In the second innings of the second Test at Edgbaston, Flintoff came in to bowl the 13th over, with the visitor's scorecard reading 47 without loss. Having been on a hat-trick earlier on the innings, after taking the last two Australian wickets off as many balls in the first-innings, Flintoff was denied by Justin Langer.
However, off the very next ball, Flintoff forced Langer to play away from the body as the left-hander played-on to his stumps. Facing a pumped-up Flintoff was going to be one of Ricky Ponting's sternest examinations. And so it proved.
After surviving two close LBW calls, the right-hander edged one to the slips that did not carry. Ponting left the next ball alone, thinking that he survived testing over from Flintoff. But umpire Billy Bowden called a no-ball which meant that Ponting had one more delivery to face from the big all-rounder.
With Flintoff ramping up the pace with each delivery, Ponting was lured to drive, only for the Australian captain to nick one to the wicket-keeper.
#9 Shoaib Akhtar vs South Africa (March 2000)
In the triangular series in Sharjah in 1999-00, Pakistan's Shoaib Akhtar bowled one of the best overs in the history of cricket.
Chasing a modest target of 169 runs, South Africa got off to a good start, with opener Herschelle Gibbs playing shots all around the ground. By the time Akhtar was brought back to the attack, the score read 74 for one.
Bringing more pace into his second spell, Akhtar had Mark Boucher nick one behind to the latter's counterpart Moin Khan. Three balls later Dale Benkenstein was bowled, and the same fate befell Lance Klusener off the last ball of the over.
The Proteas went on to lose the game by 67 runs as Gibbs remained high and dry on an unbeaten 59.
#10 Wasim Akram vs Australia, 2002
In the second ODI of the 2002 bilateral series between Pakistan and Australia in Melbourne, Wasim Akram bowled one of the meanest first overs in cricket. The left-armer scalped Adam Gilchrist off the first ball of the match, and also claimed the prized wicket of Ricky Ponting to put the Aussies on the backfoot.
The sharp swing was on display from the very first ball of the match as the Australian top-order struggled to deal with the movement. Akram bowled with pace and swung the ball enough to get Gilchrist's edge before taking a simple caught and bowled chance offered by Ponting off the third ball.
Australia were eventually bowled out for 167 before Pakistan reeled off a nervy two-wicket win to restore parity, having lost the first ODI by seven wickets.
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