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ESPNcricinfo Awards

ESPNcricinfo Awards 2015 T20I bowling nominees: the wild west in the Middle East

Flattened stumps were a regular occurrence for our T20 bowling nominees

Alagappan Muthu
Alagappan Muthu
08-Jan-2016
Mark Wood blasted New Zealand out inside 17 overs on debut  •  Getty Images

Mark Wood blasted New Zealand out inside 17 overs on debut  •  Getty Images

Click here for the T20 batting shortlist
David Wiese
5 for 23 v West Indies
third T20I, Durban

It was three days after West Indies knocked off the highest chase in the history of the format. So when South Africa put up 195 in Durban - 36 runs less than the total toppled in Johannesburg - you could imagine they still wanted something special from the bowlers. It was produced by the man who came on fifth, Wiese, who took five wickets in four overs. His stock ball hurried on to Lendl Simmons, his slower balls left Marlon Samuels and Dwayne Bravo flailing, and Darren Sammy, who had sealed the record-breaking chase, was no match too. A skiddy fast-medium bowler in only his eighth T20I recorded not just his best figures, but the best by anyone all year.
Mark Wood
3 for 26 v New Zealand
Only T20I, Manchester

England and New Zealand's bowlers had been taken for a record 3151 runs in five 50-over matches, so why would it be any different in a 20-over one? Because Wood said so. His first two balls were blitzed out of the park and Brendon McCullum was ready to do it again last ball of the over, except this one, even if it was a full toss, got to him too quickly and then flattened the stumps. And just as in the World Cup final, McCullum's dismissal decapitated the New Zealand line-up. Nos. 5 to 11 succumbed for single digits and Wood, who was responsible for two of them, finished with 3 for 26, on debut.
Sohail Tanvir
3 for 29 v Sri Lanka
first T20I, Colombo (RPS)

Pakistan captains have often said their bowlers can defend any total. Translation: they often strike early to scupper the chase before it begins and strike late to derail counterattacks. Tanvir, with his windmilling, wrong-footed action, lived up to both expectations against Sri Lanka on a Colombo belter. He took two wickets in three balls, including Tillakaratne Dilshan's, which meant the score slipped to 19 for 3 in the fourth over. But then came Milinda Siriwardana and his effortless power-hitting. He was 35 off 17, and Sri Lanka needed 60 off 28, when Tanvir's full-and-straight tactic resulted in Siriwardana picking out long-on. Someone had to make sure it wasn't just the new boys having fun.
Graeme Cremer
3 for 18 v India
second T20I, Harare

Cremer had been lost to the game since April 2013, his legspin not seen even on the domestic scene. He strapped his bowling boots back on after the World Cup, though, and barely two months into his second coming, he handed Zimbabwe their first victory over India in T20 cricket. They were defending a modest 145, but a second-string Indian side was no match once Cremer got on a roll. His first ball of the match broke M Vijay's stumps, the fourth was a googly that Manish Pandey did not pick, and the chase went from 57 for 1 to 69 for 5 in a hurry. Cremer came back to pick up one more and finish with 3 for 18 in his four overs.
Imad Wasim
4 for 11 v Zimbabwe
first T20I, Harare

"Was I using drift as a weapon today? Yes, definitely." There wasn't much need for that confirmation from Imad Wasim after he led Pakistan's successful defence of 136 away from their UAE stronghold. The left-arm spinner snuck one past Chamu Chibhabha's defences and had two men lbw. His four overs included 15 dot balls and by the end of it, Zimbabwe were 66 for 5 and going nowhere. Pakistan could easily have spent 2015 grappling with the loss of Saeed Ajmal, but Wasim, in only his fourth T20I, showed he was willing to fill the void.
Dwayne Bravo
4 for 28 v Sri Lanka
second T20I, Colombo (RPS)

Saved the best for the last, West Indies almost seemed to say. Bravo was hidden away for eight overs, in which time Sri Lanka serenely waltzed towards a target of 163. Then DJ flipped the beat and SL tripped all over themselves. He broke a second-wicket stand that had added 70 runs in 60 balls, suckered Angelo Mathews into the leg-side trap, and took two more in his final over. His effort helped West Indies to their only victory on a month-long tour.
Albie Morkel
3 for 12 v India
second T20I, Cuttack

Morkel had given up on playing for South Africa in 2013, only to end up playing the World T20 in 2014. He didn't do much there but the IPL whetted his appetite once again - enough for him to want another shot at the World T20, as he said. He showed his value in Indian conditions, where the 2016 edition will be played, with a haul of 3 for 12. More than half his four-over spell were dots, and he got the better of MS Dhoni too. South Africa bowled India out for 92 and Morkel came away with his best figures, in his 50th T20I.
Liam Plunkett
3 for 21 v Pakistan
first T20I, Dubai

It had been nearly a decade since he had bowled in T20Is, but Plunkett wasn't worried. He had broken a seven-year hiatus from Tests in 2014, and only six months prior had made his way back into the England ODI team. All he felt was excitement, and it manifested as 148kph thunderbolts. As much as it offered potential for early wickets - Pakistan slumped to 25 for 3 chasing 161, two of those wickets going to Plunkett - the remarkable aspect of his 3 for 21 was that he summoned the kind of pace he did on a slow, docile Dubai track and harnessed it so well that only two boundaries were hit off his bowling.
Chris Woakes
2 for 40 v Pakistan
second T20I, Dubai

An economy rate of 10 does not normally feature in the year's nominees for best bowling performance. Or someone who goes for 22 runs in the 18th over to give the opposition the lift they need. But this is a story of redemption. Chris Woakes had seemingly lost England the match when he was crashed for three sixes in five balls by Shahid Afridi. To make matters worse, the last of them was off a no-ball, after which he bowled a wide. Pakistan fans had been biting their nails when 47 were needed off 18 balls. Now they were licking their lips at 25 off 13.
But the extra delivery turned into a wicket - Afridi's. Woakes' next ball, the first of the final over, was a wicket as well - Sarfraz Ahmed bowled - and just like that, Woakes was sitting on the cusp of a hat-trick. Eleven needed off five. Sohail Tanvir whacked a four. Seven needed off four. Woakes, who had given away 22 runs mere minutes ago, yielded only three more runs, winning England a humdinger of a match and the T20 series as well.
Chris Jordan
Three runs in the Super Over
third T20I, Sharjah

Eoin Morgan said Jordan wanted it. Jordan's figures - 0 for 39 in four overs - suggested he didn't. It was all or nothing. England and Pakistan had made 154 each to take the final match of the T20 series into a Super Over. And Jordan wanted it, despite having never bowled a Super Over in his life. Up against him were Shahid Afridi and Umar Akmal. "I wanted to bowl nice and straight, keep the stumps in play and leave as many possible modes of dismissal in the equation," Jordan said afterwards, having kept two of the biggest hitters in the Pakistan line-up to only three runs. Jordan topped 90mph, went for the yorker every single ball, found it four times, clean-bowled Akmal off the last ball and won cricket's version of a wild-west showdown.
Click here for the T20 batting shortlist

Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo