These are the highest impact bowlers in India’s ODI history.
India’s only Achilles heel when it came to ODIs was their lack of a quality bowling unit, a problem to which they till date haven’t been able to find a solution to. Even though Anil Kumble tops the list here as the highest impact Indian bowler, he ranks 30th on the world bowling charts.
Although Anil Kumble wasn’t the same force to reckon with in the ODI format as compared to the longer format of the game, he still emerges as India’s highest impact ODI bowler. His 4 SDs as a bowler is also the highest by any Indian bowler and explains his billing as a big match player for India.
Javagal Srinath’s presence at no. 2 on this list shouldn’t be much of a surprise as he is by far India’s best pace bowler in the ODI format. During his heyday, Srinath with his pace and accuracy could run through most opposition batting line -ups. Even on days when he could not, he had enough guile and sharpness to give steady performances for his team and it is this very ability which made him the most consistent bowler (failure rate of only 32%) in India’s ODI history.
Zaheer Khan coming in at no.9 may be a bit surprising but the fact of the matter is that he doesn’t even have a single SD (interestingly) as a bowler even though his consistency is pretty high. In fact, he is India’s second most consistent bowler after Srinath in their ODI history.
Even though they were highly expensive (Negative Economy Rate IMPACT), both Ajit Agarkar and Irfan Pathan’s propensity to take wickets (high Wickets IMPACT) puts them on this list.
Harbhajan Singh and Kapil Dev’s restrictive ability (High Economy IMPACT) along with their 3 SDs (as bowlers) respectively, puts them on this list.
Interestingly, Ravi Shastri is only the second all- rounder (after Kapil Dev) on this list and makes it through primarily due to his singular SD.
NOTE: If the cut-off is lowered to 50 matches (from 75), Madan Lal (2.10) becomes the highest impact bowler for India in their history of ODI cricket – and not just because of his performance in the 1983 World Cup final. Maninder Singh (1.86) and Praveen Kumar (1.86) then emerge as the 9th and the 10th highest impact bowlers in India’s history of ODI cricket, respectively.
The highest impact players in all bowling parameters are quite revealing.
When it comes to Top/Middle-order Wickets Tally IMPACT (wickets taken from nos. 1-7 in most cases), the highest impact bowlers are Irfan Pathan, Ajit Agarkar and Javagal Srinath.
Lower-order Wickets Tally IMPACT (batsmen nos. 8-11) – highest impact bowlers are Zaheer Khan, Ajit Agarkar and Ashish Nehra.
The highest Economy IMPACT bowlers (lowest economy rates relative to all the matches in their careers) are Kapil Dev, Harbhajan Singh and Anil Kumble.
The highest impact Partnership-breaking bowlers are Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh and Ravi Shastri.
The bowlers with the highest Pressure Building IMPACT (taking quick wickets to put opposition under pressure) are Irfan Pathan, Ajit Agarkar and Ashish Nehra.
The bowlers with the lowest failure rate (a failure is seen in this system as an inability to register an IMPACT of even 1 in a match) are Javagal Srinath, Zaheer Khan and Anil Kumble.
The Highest Impact Bowling Performances in India’s ODI history (Series/ Tournament Context):
1. A Kumble – 6 for 12 in 6.1 overs v West Indies, Calcutta, 1993 – Bowling IMPACT 7.31
Chasing 226, West Indies were at 101-4 on a sluggish track before Anil Kumble put them out of their misery with a six-wicket haul. Kumble accounted for the last 6 West Indian wickets within a space of 26 balls and in the process conceded only 4 runs. His overall figures of 6-12 till date remains the best individual performance by an Indian bowler.
2. P Kumar – 4 for 46 in 10 overs v Australia, Brisbane, 2008 – Bowling IMPACT 5.47
Chasing 259, Australia were jolted early by Praveen Kumar’s triple strike and were reduced to 32-3 in the first 9 overs. They never really recovered from that position and even though Michael Hussey and James Hopes led a spirited fight-back, Kumar had done enough to seal the series in India’s favour which till date remains their only ODI series win in Australia.
3. ND Hirwani – 4 for 46 in 10 overs v New Zealand, Sharjah, 1988– Bowling IMPACT 5.43
New Zealand, chasing 251 were ambling towards their target at 92-2 when Hirwani was brought into the attack. His leg-spinners initially stifled the New Zealand scoring rate before wickets became a by-product of the same. By the time Hirwani had finished his spell, New Zealand had collapsed from 92-2 to 113-6 and India had more or less sealed the Sharjah Cup in their favour.
The above performances are all within the series/tournament context. When it comes to a match context, Ashish Nehra’s 6-23 v England (Durban, 2003) registers as the highest impact bowling performance in the history of Indian ODI cricket. Murali Kartik’s 6-27 v Australia (Mumbai, 2007) and Sourav Ganguly’s 5-16 v Pakistan (Toronto, 1997) are the second and the third highest impact bowling performances in a match context, respectively.
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