ODI bowling nominees: top five February 18, 2010

Five-star five-fors

Harsha Bhogle, Ian Chappell and Sanjay Manjrekar discuss the top five contenders in our shortlist of the ODI bowling performances of 2009

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

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.

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.

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.

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.