There were many things that stood out in the 2019 ICC World Cup with the immense success enjoyed by bowlers being one of them.
The tournament in England saw some fascinating contests between bat and ball, with the latter coming out on top on plenty of occasions.
Here, we cast our eye on the top five bowling spells from the World Cup:
Liam Plunkett (England)
3-41 v New Zealand
The brilliance of Liam Plunkett’s spell against the Kiwis was magnified by the occasion as it came in the final.
The Black Caps had recovered from the early loss of Martin Guptill through a threatening stand between Kane Williamson and Henry Nicholls, but Wood wrestled back the initiative for England in the middle-overs with a damaging second spell.
The England medium-pacer used the cross-seamed delivery to deadly effect at Lord’s to dismiss both set batsmen in his second spell, before returning to dismiss the dangerous James Neesham with the same method.
New Zealand’s batting never truly recovered from the dismissals of those three crucial batsmen.
Mitchell Starc (Australia)
4-43 v England
Lord’s was lucky to witness some of the best spells of the tournament and it was hosts England who were on the receiving end when Mitchell Starc cranked up the heat.
The Aussie pace spearhead claimed two five-wicket hauls on his way to a record World Cup tally, but it was his showing against England that stood out.
With Australia attempting to defend a total of 285, Starc put the five-time champions on top against their arch-rivals with a devastating spell with the new-ball. He rattled the in-form Joe Root with a vicious inswinger before surprising Eoin Morgan with a menacing bouncer.
The hosts were threatening to recover from those early setbacks through a defiant innings from Ben Stokes, but Starc returned to shatter the stumps of the all-rounder with a toe-crushing yorker that was arguably the delivery of the tournament.
Shaheen Afridi (Pakistan)
6-35 v Bangladesh
While Pakistan had effectively been knocked out of the tournament at that point, Shaheen Afridi gave their fans something to cherish with a memorable display at Lord’s.
Afridi wreaked havoc on Bangladesh’s batting unit with a six-wicket burst and wrote his name into the record book in the process. His 6-35 are the best-ever ODI figures recorded by any bowler at Lord’s and he became the first teenager to claim a five-wicket haul at the ‘home of cricket’ in the process.
It ended up being the best figures in the tournament by any bowler and was made remarkable by the fact that it came from a 19-year-old pacer playing in his first World Cup campaign.
Matt Henry (New Zealand)
3-37 v India
India’s fans would have already been dreaming of the World Cup final when their team restricted New Zealand to 239 in the first semi-final at Manchester.
However, a complete shock lay in store for them and India’s star-studded batting unit on the reserve day with the Kiwi pacers running riot at Old Trafford.
It was Matt Henry who triggered India’s downfall with a stupendous opening spell with the moving ball that accounted for in-form openers Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul. Both batsmen had no clue as to what hit them with Henry hitting a dangerous line and length that gave them no hiding room.
Trent Boult removed Virat Kohli at the other end to hurt India further before Henry claimed his third wicket of the day by sending back Dinesh Karthik. Those vital top-order wickets left India in tatters and a brilliant counter-attacking innings from Ravindra Jadeja wasn’t enough to save their campaign in the end.
Lasith Malinga (Sri Lanka)
4-41 v England
It was Sri Lanka’s shock win over England that blew the tournament wide open in the latter stages and it was all set up by a vintage display from Lasith Malinga.
The veteran pacer turned back the clock at Headingley with a rousing display that left the hosts in tatters in a modest run chase of 233.
Malinga trapped Jonny Bairstow lbw for a golden duck before he found the outside edge of James Vince to give Sri Lanka a terrific start with the ball. England still managed to recover and were looking destined for a win, before Malinga returned to crush their hopes once again.
The 35-year-old snuffed out Joe Root’s innings before unleashing a trademark yorker that beat the dangerous Joe Buttler all ends up. Those two wickets turned the game on its head completely with Sri Lanka eventually wrapping up a famous win.
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