The top five bowling performances from World Cup 2011.

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The 2011 ODI World Cup saw India lifting the trophy after defeating Sri Lanka in the final at Wankhede Stadium. But while the likes of Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, and MS Dhoni are credited for India’s title win, there were lots of contributions from bowlers as fast bowler Zaheer Khan was the silent hero of the team, picking 21 wickets in 9 matches. Yuvraj’s exploits with the bat grabbed the headlines, but many forget that he also picked 15 wickets in 9 matches in the tournament as well.

The event saw some memorable bowling performances and here is a look back at five of them:

Yuvraj Singh vs Ireland, 5 for 31 in Bengaluru

William Porterfield’s knock of 75 runs gave the minnows a solid platform to build their innings and put on a decent total to chase. On a slow Bengaluru wicket, any target beyond 250 was expected to be a difficult one, and Yuvraj Singh ensured Ireland do not reach the mark. The left-arm spinner cleaned up Ireland’s middle-order, picking five wickets and giving just 31 runs in his 10 overs at an economy rate of 3.1, as the visitors were bundled out for 207. It was Yuvraj’s best bowling figures in his ODI career, and later, he also scored a half-century to help India win the game by five wickets.

Lasith Malinga v Kenya, 6 for 38 in Colombo

Against Sri Lanka pacer Lasith Malinga, Kenya saw one of their worst batting displays at the 2011 World Cup. After Malinga trapped Seren Walters LBW for 1, Collins Obuya and David Obuya stitched up a 94-run stand. But Malinga cleaned up Collins for 52, and then the real show began. The fast bowler dismissed Tanmay Mishra for a duck, and then in the 44th over, he picked up three wickets but missed out on a hat-trick. Malinga ended with figures of 6/38 as Kenya were bowled out for a meagre score of 142.

Shahid Afridi v Sri Lanka, 4 for 34 in Colombo

When Pakistan set up a target of 278 for Sri Lanka to chase in the Group A clash of 2011 World Cup on a solid batting surface in Colombo, it felt like it would be an easy task for Kumar Sangakkara’s men at home. Upul Tharanga and Tillakaratne Dilshan gave the team a good start in the chase, but veteran cricketer Shahid Afridi proved to be Sri Lanka’s nemesis. Afridi contained runs in the middle overs. He picked up the important wickets of Tillakaratne Dilshan, and Kumar Sangakkara, and then also dismissed quality players Thilan Samaraweera and Angelo Mathews, to crush Lanka’s middle-order. Afridi finished with figures of 4/34 as Pakistan won the match by 11 runs in a sensational finish.

Dale Steyn vs India, 5 for 50 in Nagpur

The 2011 ODI World Cup match between India and South Africa saw one of the worst collapses in World Cup history. And the chief architect of the destruction was the great Dale Steyn. India were 267/1 in 39.3 overs, and in the next 55 balls, the MS Dhoni-led team lost 9 wickets, adding just 29 runs to the total. Tendulkar was dismissed by Morne Morkel for 111 in the 40th over, and then pacer Steyn dismissed Gautam Gambhir and Yusuf Pathan in the next over. Steyn then finished off the tail in his two remaining overs, dismissing Harbhajan Singh, Ashish Nehra, and Munaf Patel and ending with figures of 5/50 with India getting all out for 296. The Proteas won the match by three wickets with two balls to spare.

Zaheer Khan vs West Indies, 3 for 26 in Chennai

It was a hot and humid day in Chennai when India faced West Indies at the World Cup 2011. For fast bowlers, it is always hard to bowl in such conditions. But Zaheer Khan put on one of his best bowling performances to set up a big win for India. Despite Yuvraj Singh’s fighting hundred, India had suffered another collapse in the powerplay and set up a modest target of 269 for the Windies to chase. Devon Smith and Ramnaresh Sarwan were in the middle of building a partnership when Zaheer dismissed the former for 81. Smith was starting to look dangerous and it was the big wicket that turned the match around. Without him leading the chase, the Windies batting collapsed. Zaheer picked up two more wickets through skilful bowling , dismissing Sulieman Benn and Sarwan, as he finished with figures of 26/3 in 6 overs, at an economy rate of 4.33.

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