The Mills and Bolly Show
Ishant Sharma 4 for 57 v Sri Lanka
second ODI, Colombo
Ishant's composure at the death in a thrilling encounter against Sri Lanka fetched him his third four-wicket haul and India a 15-run win that gave them a 2-0 lead in a series they eventually won. Ishant got Jayasuriya early in Sri Lanka's chase of 257, but Sri Lanka came back into it, and with 70 needed off 47, six wickets left to take and the batting Powerplay in operation, the game was anybody's. Ishant then struck with a decisive three-wicket burst. He had Chamara Kapugedera caught behind, and though under fire from Thilina Kandamby, who kept picking off boundaries, he sealed one end off. Farveez Maharoof was bowled off a yorker, and Thilan Thushara was deceived by a slower one to put India on course.
Kyle Mills 4 for 35 v Australia
first ODI, Perth
Mills wrecked Australia to set-up a nailbiting win for New Zealand on a track Ricky Ponting had described as ideal for batting. Using the early movement, he persisted with a line in the corridor outside off to keep the usually attacking Australian openers in check, and forced errors that cost them their wickets. A set Brad Haddin was bowled off an inside edge, and the innings ended for 181 when Mills beat Mitchell Johnson's attempted swipe. The score was Australia's lowest at home in the year, and Mills played a significant hand in overhauling it, making a patient 26 in a game that was decided on the last ball.
Andrew Flintoff 5 for 19 v West Indies
fifth ODI, St Lucia
England had Flintoff to thank for their maiden ODI series win in the West Indies. In a truncated 29-over fixture, he dismissed opener Lendl Simmons and Ramnaresh Sarwan in the space of five deliveries; but the highlight was a hat-trick, only the third by an England bowler in ODIs: Denesh Ramdin bowled, Ravi Rampaul lbw, and Suliemann Benn yorked, to wrap up a 26-run win.
Roelof van der Merwe 3 for 46 v Australia
fourth ODI, Port Elizabeth
For a spinner to take 3 for 46 in 10 overs on a track full of runs is a terrific feat, and thanks to van der Merwe, South Africa took their first win in three successive bilateral ODI series against Australia. Herschelle Gibbs' century had propelled the hosts to 317, but Australia's top order had delivered a fitting reply with each of the top three making fifties. Van der Merwe, playing in just his third ODI, castled Michael Clarke and deceived Callum Ferguson and Michael Hussey, completely altering the game in five overs. Dale Steyn knocked off the tail to seal a series win with a game to spare.
Shahid Afridi 6 for 38 v Australia
first ODI, Dubai
On a wicket where the ball gripped and turned, Afridi tore through Australia after their top order had negotiated the pace bowlers with comfort. Extracting turn and bounce and pushing through the odd googly, he took six wickets, with good support from Saeed Ajmal. Such was their dominance that Australia lost eight wickets for 27, to be bowled out for 168. Afridi's effort was the first six-wicket haul of the year, and the fifth-best ODI bowling performance against Australia. He finished the series as the leading wicket-taker, with 10 at 17.10
Michael Clarke 3 for 15 v Pakistan
third ODI, Abu Dhabi
Clarke led by example as captain and produced a series-turning performance. His 66 had enabled Australia to reach a competitive 198 on a slow, turning track, but it was his contribution with the ball that proved decisive. Pakistan's openers had added 95 and seemed set to give their team a 2-1 lead but were undone by spin. Clarke struck with his first two balls, inducing Misbah-ul-Haq to commit an error while going for a big one, and bowling Ahmed Shehzad with an arm ball. Shahid Afridi fell four overs later, sucked in by a flighted invitation from Clarke, and Pakistan had been reduced to 123 for 5. The captain then ceded the floor to the specialist bowlers to complete the job. Australia took a 2-1 lead, and the rubber was sealed four days later.
Doug Bollinger 5 for 35 v Pakistan
fourth ODI, Abu Dhabi
Bollinger was awarded his Test cap in January, and he made his mark in only his second ODI, in May. A steady line and length, slight variations in pace, and an ability to bowl to his fields are his strengths, and he made the best use of them to seal the series. Bollinger tempted Salman Butt into playing an expansive drive, only to be caught behind; surprised a well-set Shoaib Malik with one that nipped in; and slipped in a quicker one to get Shahid Afridi, who was on 40, to mistime a pull, before finishing off the tail.
Harbhajan Singh 5 for 56 v Sri Lanka
Compaq Cup final, Colombo
Harbhajan had been India's best spinner for a long time, but more for his ability to dry up runs than for his wicket-taking. But in a crunch game, where Sri Lanka looked poised to upset the win-the-toss-win-the-match trend at the Premadasa Stadium, Harbhajan delivered, cutting through the line-up to give India a 46-run win. Brought on when the Sri Lankan openers had delivered a blistering reply to India's 319, Harbhajan enticed Tillakaratne Dilshan with an open off-side field, got him to cut, and bowled him with one that spun in. He then got rid of Mahela Jayawardene with a doosra in his next over, and dealt the clinching blow at the death, dismissing the only man who stood between victory and defeat - Thilina Kandamby. Harbhajan's pumped-up performance marked the end of India's long struggle in tournament finals.
Gavin Tonge 4 for 25 v Pakistan
Champions Trophy, Johannesburg
A second-string West Indies team, filling in for striking players, threw up a couple of gems. Kemar Roach had been an instant revelation, but it was the Leeward Islands fast bowler Tonge who left Pakistan bewildered in what had for the most part been a one-sided game. Making the batsmen play was Tonge's strategy and it paid off: Imran Nazir was bowled off a full delivery, Kamran Akmal undone for by seam and carry, and Shoaib Malik drawn into a fatal drive. Tonge showed some aggression too, smacking Mohammad Yousuf in the ribs and having him caught behind. Thanks to that venomous spell, Pakistan were at one point reeling at 76 for 5, before an unbeaten sixth-wicket stand helped them overcome a paltry 133.
Ian Butler 4 for 44 v Pakistan
Champions Trophy semi-final, Johannesburg
Butler's best bowling performance came just when it mattered for New Zealand. They were underdogs against Pakistan, but a disciplined display, led by his four-for, helped them keep the opposition down to a total New Zealand eventually chased down. Butler kept it in the channel outside off, and his consistency earned him the wickets of three frontline batsmen, two of whom were dismissed cheaply. Shoaib Malik was caught at slip; a fullish delivery proved too tempting for Kamran Akmal, who holed out at sweeper cover; and the dangerous Shahid Afridi was caught behind trying to nibble one to third man.
Kyle Mills 3 for 27 v Australia
Champions Trophy final, Centurion
Mills' opening spell provided Australia with their first real challenge in a global tournament final since the 1996 World Cup. In defence of a sub-standard total, Mills bowled with determination, sticking to immaculate lengths with the right degree of swing and movement to confound the batsmen. Ricky Ponting fell to one such delivery, which cut in to trap him in front, and at 6 for 2, New Zealand were in with a chance. Though Shane Watson and Cameron White put on what proved to be a match-winning stand, Mills kept trying, and he dismissed White and Michael Hussey in his next spell.
Doug Bollinger 5 for 35 v India
sixth ODI, Guwahati
The previous game had yielded close to 700 runs, but when provided with a more testing surface it was India who wilted. Australia were missing four key players at the start of the series, and went on to lose four more during the seven games, but Bollinger showed admirable spirit and skill to clinch the series with a game to spare. On a track that suited his style, he found his mark immediately, nipping out two wickets early and snapping two dangerous partnerships later. The pitch was by no means a green-top; there was just a hint of movement, which Bollinger and his new-ball partner, Mitchell Johnson, exploited, bundling India out for 170. The difference in quality was evident: only one India seamer managed a wicket.
Siddhartha Talya is an editorial assistant at Cricinfo