So far in the 2021 T20 World Cup, we’ve seen bowlers having a major say in the results. There have been far too many matches where the first innings bowling performance has more or less decided the fate of the game even before a ball of the second innings is bowled. Very rarely have we seen matches go down to the wire and usually teams are losing the matches in the power play itself. It is because of bowlers like Chris Woakes in the powerplay who have the ability to nip the ball just enough to trouble the batters and are miserly when it comes to runs conceded in an innings.
In this piece, we’re looking at five such bowlers who have had an influential campaign so far and have been difficult to face in the competition.
Sri Lanka’s mystery spinner Wanindu Hasarange became the first bowler in the tournament to pick up a hat-trick in the Super 12 stage. Hasaranga is ranked as the second-best T20I bowler in the world and his exploits in the tournament have lived up to his reputation so far. He had a difficult spell in the Indian T20 League where he was named as a replacement player but showed no signs of lack of form from the get-go in the 2021 T20 World Cup. He is currently tied with Bangladesh’s Shakib Al Hasan on 11 wickets as the top wicket-taker of the tournament and could very well end up as the highest.
SHAHEEN SHAH AFRIDI
Pakistan’s keeper-batter in the post-match press conference after a win against India called Shaheen Shah Afridi as the best T20 fast bowler and the 21-year old showed exactly why he is rated so highly. He has the ability to make the new ball move late at high speeds and has been the most impactful bowler in the power plays so far. The two wickets he got of Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul in Pakistan’s opener would have troubled any batter of any era. That’s how good he is with the brand new ball. He has picked up five wickets in three matches and there’s surely more to come from the left-arm pacer.
Rashid Khan is far too often called the best T20 bowler by many greats of the game. It is his ability to choke the opposition of runs and his variations that make him stand out. His numbers in the three matches Afghanistan have played seem too good to be true. He has picked up seven wickets at an unreal average of seven with an economy rate of just 4.74. Such has been his impact on the competition and the reason why Afghanistan are sitting second in the group.
There was plenty of criticism regarding Haris Rauf’s spot in the Pakistan T20 side in the past year or so. Former coach Waqar Younis explained that Rauf was struggling to get momentum in his run-up and that was affecting his rhythm. Seems like the pace bowler has gone things right before the start of the competition and is reaping rewards in the tournament so far. He has also developed a clever slower delivery when mixed with his raw pace, makes him almost unplayable at times. Rauf has picked up six wickets in three matches at an average of 14.00 with 4/22 against New Zealand being his best figures.
Another player with unreal numbers in the competition so far has been England’s new-ball bowler, Woakes. It is players like Woakes that makes this English white-ball set up the best in the world. He was nowhere close to a spot in the T20 team but due to a few injuries to key players, he stepped up and now looks undroppable. He has picked up four wickets in the three matches he has played so far at an average of 11.75 and an economy rate of 4.70. Those numbers are just remarkable!