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Top 3 bowlers with most ODI wickets in a calendar year

Saqlain Mushtaq was a prolific ODI wicket taker, bowling at the death
Saqlain Mushtaq was a prolific ODI wicket taker, bowling at the death
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Renin Wilben Albert

Pacers dominated the bowling scene in one-dayers in 2019. Indian fast bowler Mohammed Shami was the leading wicket-taker in ODIs this year, with 42 wickets in 21 matches at an average of 22.64 and a strike rate of 25.3. He picked up two four-wicket hauls, and one five-wicket haul.

Trent Boult, New Zealand’s standout performer in the last two World Cups, is at number two on the list, with 38 wickets in 20 matches at an average of 23.97 and a strike rate of 30.5. He maintained an excellent economy rate of 4.70. Boult’s best of 5 for 21 came against India at Hamilton in January. The left-arm seamer also claimed a hat-trick against Australia in the World Cup. Another Kiwi, Lockie Ferguson, completes the top three, with 35 wickets in 17 matches at an average of 23.71 and a strike rate of 27.3.

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That's for 2019 though. Here now, we take a look at the 3 bowlers who have picked up the most wickets in ODIs in a calendar year ever.


#3. Shane Warne (62 wickets in 1999)

Aussie spin wizard Shane Warne had a memorable year in 1999
Aussie spin wizard Shane Warne had a memorable year in 1999

Claiming 62 wickets in 37 matches at an average of 23.27 and a strike rate of 31.8 Shane Warne was on fire in 1999. He also had an excellent economy rate of 4.38. Warne picked up two four-wicket hauls in the year. His two four-fors came in the two biggest games of the year. He picked up 4 for 29 in the unforgettable tied semi-final against South Africa at Birmingham. Warne claimed four massive wickets of Gary Kirsten, Herschelle Gibbs, opposition skipper Hansie Cronje and Jacques Kallis, as South Africa crashed out in heart-breaking circumstances.

His next four-for came in the all-important final against Pakistan at Lord’s. This time, Warne dismissed Ijaz Ahmed, Moin Khan, Shahid Afrdi and Pakistan captain Wasim Akram as the batting side crumbled to 132 all out. Warne’s figures read 9-1-33-4. Australia won the final by eight wickets. In the World Cup clash against West Indies at Manchester, Warne registered sensational figures of 10-4-11-3. His other memorable performances in the year were - 3 for 16 in the second final of the CB series against England at Melbourne in February, 3 for 35 and 3 for 28 against West Indies at Port of Spain and Bridgetown respectively, in April.

#2. Saeed Ajmal (62 wickets in 2013)

Saeed Ajmal celebrating a scwith Kamran Akmal
Saeed Ajmal celebrating a scalp with Kamran Akmal

Former Pakistan off-spinner Saeed Ajmal had a memorable 2013, claiming 62 wickets in 33 matches at an average of 20.45 and a strike rate of 29.6. Ajmal maintained an excellent economy rate of 4.13 in the year. Ajmal finished the year with one five-wicket haul and two four-fors.

Ajmal’s best of 5 for 24 came against India at Delhi in January, as he ran through the lower order of the Indian batting. India, however, won the match by 10 runs as Pakistan failed to chase down 168. Ajmal picked up 4 for 30 against South Africa at Sharjah in October, dismissing Graeme Smith, Faf du Plessis, and skipper AB de Villiers. Pakistan, this time, went down by one run this time.

The former off-spinner’s other four-wicket haul came against Sri Lanka at Abu Dhabi in December. He again ran through the lower half of the opposition, including opposition skipper Angelo Mathews. Ajmal’s spell restricted Sri Lanka to 225, which Pakistan chased down courtesy Mohammad Hafeez’s 113 not out.

His other impressive efforts in the year included 3 for 20 against India at Kolkata in January. Ajmal further claimed 3 for 42 against South Africa at Durban, dismissing the well-set de Villiers for 75, and David Miller for 67, a match Pakistan won by three wickets. Ajmal also played a stellar role in the tied encounter against West Indies in July, with 3 for 36, claiming the wickets of Lendl Simmons, Dwayne Bravo, and Sunil Narine.

#1. Saqlain Mushtaq (69 wickets in 1997)

Saqlain Mushtaq was economical and lethal in the 90s in ODIs
Saqlain Mushtaq was economical and lethal in the 90s in ODIs

Pakistan’s former off-spinner Saqlain Mushtaq holds the record for having claimed most wickets in ODIs in a calendar year. In 1997 he picked up 69 wickets in 36 matches at an average of 18.73 and a strike rate of 27.3. Mushtaq also maintained a commendable economy rate of 4.11. Saqlain was also the leading wicket-taker in ODIs in 1996, claiming 65 wickets in 33 games at an average of 19.52, and a strike rate of 26.6.

Saqlain claimed two five-fors in the year. He picked up 5 for 38 against Bangladesh in the second match of the Asia Cup at Colombo in July. Saqlain sent back Athar Ali Khan (82), Aminul Islam (14), skipper Akram Khan (59), and Khaled Mashud (4) as Bangladesh stumbled in a big chase of 320 to lose by 109 runs.

Saqlain’s second five-for came in the 1st ODI against India at Toronto in September. He sent back Mohammad Azharuddin (52), Ajay Jadeja (49), and Robin Singh (16), to end with figures of 5 for 45. India were all out for 208. However, debutant Harvinder Singh’s 3 for 44 bowled India to a 20-run triumph.

The man, known for his ‘doosra’, claimed 4 for 17 in a CB series match against West Indies at Sydney in January, and 4 for 26 versus England during a Sharjah Champions Trophy game in December. England, however, won the close contest by 8 runs.

Edited by rehaan díaz
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