ODI bowling performance of the year January 21, 2021

Super Over superhero

Career-best figures and a five-for in regulation time, but the winner of the ODI bowling performance award, Blessing Muzarabani, wasn't done yet

Blessing Muzarabani bowled the most economical Super Over in an international match © AFP via Getty Images

Blessing Muzarabani

5 for 49 (and 2 for 2 in Super Over) vs Pakistan, Rawalpindi

A man who appeared to have moved on from Zimbabwe two years earlier, the 6' 6" Muzarabani was fast-tracked back into the national side at the first opportunity, and in the final ODI against Pakistan, he justified why the selectors had been so keen.

He started with a wicket in the first over of Pakistan's chase, and his efforts stretched beyond the regulation innings and into a wild Super Over. After he breached Imam-ul-Haq's defences with his third ball, Zimbabwe let the game drift as Pakistan chased 279. Middle-overs partnerships by Babar Azam with Khushdil Shah and Wahab Riaz inched Pakistan closer to their target. Muzarabani returned to break both stands, then got rid of Shaheen Afridi, and off the last ball of his spell, snared Azam for 125.

With Pakistan nine down and needing 13, it seemed that Muzarabani had got his side over the line, only for a four off the final delivery to take it to a Super Over. Here, the inspired Muzarabani rose once more, demonstrating his composure as he outfoxed Iftikhar Ahmed with a slower ball first up, before taking care of Shah two balls later. Zimbabwe needed just three to win, which they got in three balls.

Key moment

It was the 49th over, and Pakistan needed 20 to win. Muzarabani came in to bowl his last, and Azam flicked his second ball away for six to swing the game back in Pakistan's favour. Muzarabani got him off strike and with his penultimate delivery fooled Shaheen Afridi with a slower ball that he would scoop tamely to Raza. Muzarabani then sent down a magical short ball to Azam that threatened to lodge itself up the batsman's nostrils. As he frantically tried to fend it off, he got a tickle through to the keeper.

The numbers

2 Number of runs Muzarabani conceded in the Super Over. This is the most economical a bowler has been in a Super Over in internationals.

What they said

"Surely Muzarabani has now done enough! Seven wickets for Muzarabani, five in the 50 overs and two in the Super Over. If now Zimbabwe don't win this, they never will!"
Bazid Khan on commentary

The closest contender

Lungi Ngidi, 6 for 58 vs Australia, Bloemfontein
Career best figures for Ngidi helped South Africa seal a home ODI series win against Australia. Ngidi removed the top three of David Warner, Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne cheaply, and returned to raze the tail as Australia were restricted to a below-par 271.

ESPNcricinfo Awards 2020

Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000

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