It has been almost 13 years since the inception of T20 cricket in international arena. It all started with a T20I match between Australia and New Zealand. Since then, T20 cricket has only emerged as a forerunner of entertainment in world cricket.
In these 13 years, we have witnessed so many bowlers with varied skill-sets and tactics. Bowlers no longer rely on their pace and swing; instead they are using so many different variations such as yorkers, slower ones, knuckle-ball, etc to deceive the batsmen.
So, having said that, let's find out the most impactful bowlers in T20 Internationals.
Please Note: The objective here is not to find out the best bowlers; which is rather subjective, but it is to find out the most impactful bowlers based on a tried and tested non-biased methodology.
Methodology & Criteria:
1. The methodology considers all the factors that can be a part of a bowler’s performance such as wickets, strike rate, average, consistency, man of the match, man of the series, etc.
2. The entire data is pooled into two groups, viz. Subcontinent and Non-subcontinent pitches.
3. For fast bowlers, performance on subcontinent pitches was given a higher weightage as compared to their performance non-subcontinent pitches.
4. For spinners, performance on subcontinent or pitches was given a lower weightage as compared to their performance on non-subcontinent pitches.
5. To be eligible for the ranking, a bowler should have played at least 15 matches each on subcontinent and non-subcontinent pitches.
6. This is a statistical comparison, and the end result is to find out the impact rating on the scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the highest.
7. Statistical data updated till the third T20 International between Ireland and Afghanistan, 2018.
8. To be fair to fast bowlers and spinners, the list has at least 2 bowlers from each category.
#5: Lasith Malinga
This will come as a surprise to many. As perception wise, Lasith Malinga is supposed to be on the top of this list, isn't it?
Well, Malinga has been one heck of a T20 bowler and probably the best world has ever seen. However in T20 Internationals, he is still the second most impactful fast bowler in the world; marginally behind Umar Gul.
Overall, he has taken 90 wickets from 68 innings at a superb average of 19.77 and a decent economy rate of 7.36. His performance on non-subcontinent pitches has been marginally better with 41 wickets in 30 innings at an average of 17.9 and an economy rate of 7.1.
He is one of the few bowlers to have taken a 5 wicket-haul in T20 Internationals. This came in when he took his career best of 5 for 31 against England in Pallekele. He is second on the list of leading wicket takers in T20 Internationals.
Based on the methodology, Lasith Malinga gets following impact ratings.
Overall Impact Rating: 6.26/10
Subcontinent Rating- 4.43 , Non-Subcontinent Rating- 1.83
#4: Umar Gul
This should also come as a surprise as not many would have thought that Umar Gul would beat the likes of Malinga, Amir, Steyn, etc. to claim the tag of the most impactful fast bowler in T20 Internationals.
Umar Gul made his T20 International debut against Kenya in 2007, where he joined the league of a select few bowlers to have bowled a maiden on debut.
Overall, he has taken 85 wickets from 60 innings at a superb average of 16.97 and an economy rate of 7.2. He is third on the list of most wicket takers in T20 Internationals
According to us, he has been a strike bowler as he strikes a wicket every 14 balls, which is excellent.
Basis our methodology, Umar Gul gets following impact ratings.
Overall Impact Rating: 6.57/10.
Subcontinent Rating- 3.81 , Non-Subcontinent Rating- 2.76
According to the stats shown below, both, Malinga and Gula are almost identical on subcontinent pitches, however, what differentiates Gul from Malinga is his non-subcontinent performance, where he has a better average, better strike rate, better economy rate and has also taken more 4-wicket hauls.
#3: Sunil Narine
The magician spinner, Sunil Narine came into limelight when he started playing for Kolkatta Knight Riders. He was one of the prime reasons why Kolkatta Knight Riders lifted the IPL trophy in 2012.
In T20 Internationals, Sunil Narine has taken 50 wickets in 46 innings at an average of 20.7 and a magnificent economy rate of only 6.02. His economy rate of 6.02 is second best to Rashid Khan among players who have taken 50 wickets or more.
Basis our methodology, Sunil Narine gets following impact ratings.
Overall Impact Rating: 7.2/10
Subcontinent Rating- 1.6 , Non-Subcontinent Rating- 5.6
#2: Imran Tahir
Imran Tahir made his debut against Srilanka in Colombo in 2013. Since then, he has been the most consistent bowler in T20 Internationals with a consistency of 47.22%. That means he has taken a two wicket-haul in 47% of his matches.
Analyzing his stats, he has taken 57 wickets from 36 innings at an impressive average of 15.85 and an economy rate of 6.8. He has been consistent with his performances on all kinds of pitches.
Basis our methodology, Imran Tahir gets following impact ratings
Overall Impact Rating: 8.2/10
Subcontinent Rating- 2.9 , Non-Subcontinent Rating- 5.3
#1: Ajantha Mendis
Jumping straight to his stats, Ajantha Mendis has been excellent on any kind of pitch he has played. Overall, he has taken 66 wickets from 39 matches at a brilliant average of just 14.4 and an economy rate of just 6.5.
On subcontinent pitches, he has taken 34 wickets from 20 matches at an average of 15.8 and an economy rate of 7.
What sets him apart from other bowlers is his performance on non-subcontinent pitches. He has taken 32 wickets from 19 matches at a consistency of 58%, which is exceptional.
Basis our methodology, Ajantha Mendis gets following impact ratings
Overall Impact Rating: 9.5/10
Subcontinent Rating- 2.9 , Non-Subcontinent Rating- 6.6
On subcontinent pitches, there is nothing separating Mendis and Tahir as both get an impact rating of 2.9.
Comparing his stats on non-subcontinent pitches, he has a better economy rate, a better average and a better consistency as compared to Narine and Tahir.
As our methodology gives a higher weightage to spinners for performance on non-subcontinent pitches, Mendis was able to achieve a higher impact rating.
There are other bowlers such as Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal and Rashid Khan, who have been exceptional T20 International bowlers till now, but they couldn't qualify our criteria of minimum 15 number of matches played on both kinds of pitches.
Probably, once we revise this list after a year or two, we might see these bowlers in the list of most impactful bowlers in T20 Internationals.
In case you have missed the previous blog, here's the link for it.