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ESPNcricinfo Awards

ESPNcricinfo Awards 2017 T20I bowling nominees: short format, big returns

Between them, our T20I bowling nominees took 36 wickets for 201 in their nominated spells

Nikhil Kalro
Lungi Ngidi saved his best for the last over of his first T20I  •  Associated Press

Lungi Ngidi saved his best for the last over of his first T20I  •  Associated Press

Click here for the T20I batting shortlist
Lungi Ngidi
2 for 12 vs Sri Lanka
first T20I, Centurion

In the mould of Kagiso Rabada, Ngidi is a a tall, strong fast bowler, who can generate speeds in excess of 140kph. South Africa posted 126 for 5 in Centurion, after a two-hour rain delay cut the number of overs available in half. Ngidi was struck for two fours in his opening over, including one through slip off an outside edge. His pace, agility and rhythm were evident. Accuracy? He showed that too in his final over, the eighth of the innings. With 40 required off 18 balls, he took two wickets, conceding four, to earn himself the Man-of-the-Match award on international debut.
Lakshan Sandakan
4 for 23 vs South Africa
second T20I, Johannesburg

Batting generally dominates modern cricket, but 2017 was the year wristspin decided to overthrow the establishment. And it didn't matter which hand it was released from. Leftie Lakshan Sandakan, on T20I debut, began the year by ripping through South Africa's middle order at the batting-friendly Wanderers, starting with a wicket off his first ball in T20Is - the first Sri Lankan to achieve the feat. Unlike other wristspinners, Sandakan relies solely on his slower pace to deceive batsmen in the air. South Africa's batsmen hadn't seen too much of him, or of that mode of bowling. They failed to read him out of the hand, and were forced into cross-batted strokes. Two batsmen fell to reverse sweeps, strokes borne out of a failure to successfully play Sandakan off the front foot.
Yuzvendra Chahal
6 for 25 vs England
third T20I, Bengaluru

Spin is a risky option at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium, given the dimensions of the stadium. But Chahal, who has played for Royal Challengers Bangalore for the majority of his IPL career, has honed his defensive bowling skills at the ground. So when England - in their chase of 203 in the final game of an unsuccessful tour - came hard at him, he was well equipped. He bowled his legbreaks and googlies wider than usual, making the batsmen reach, and his quicker deliveries were straight, opening up lbws and bowled. He elicited a stunning 8 for 8 collapse to finish with the best returns by an Indian bowler in T20Is.
Imran Tahir
5 for 24 vs New Zealand
only T20, Auckland

A wristspinner generally generates more bounce than other slow bowlers because of the additional revolutions imparted on the ball. This calls for the length to be adjusted, especially on small grounds. In this match, Imran Tahir showed himself adept at making these changes to good effect. New Zealand made a shaky start, which meant when Tahir came on, he was bowl at batsmen looking for runs off every ball. So he darted them in shorter and wider, preventing them from targeting the short, straight boundary. When he did use flight and drift, he made sure the length wasn't full, giving the ball enough room to turn either way. He took career-best figures en route to becoming the second-fastest to 50 T20I wickets.
Shadab Khan
4 for 14 vs West Indies
second T20I, Port-of-Spain

Early in his career, Shadab hasn't found the subtle changes in pace that good wristspinners require, but he has the ability to deliver the legbreak and the googly at the same pace, making him hard to read through the air. Against West Indies in the second T20I, Pakistan needed wickets after posting just 132. Shadab delivered, and his use of the googly was particularly effective. He picked up Chadwick Walton and Marlon Samuels with googlies, and Rovman Powell and Kieron Pollard with legbreaks. All four batsmen felt they needed to attack the legspinner, but none of them picked Shadab, who finished with 4-1-14-4.
Shakib Al Hasan
3 for 24 vs Sri Lanka
second T20I, Colombo

Shakib is one of the best allrounders in international cricket, and in this game, he took the confidence of a 31-ball 38 into his bowling. Opening the attack, he used the flat trajectory that is customary for spinners in the Powerplay to get Kusal Perera to chop on. In his next over, he had Dilshan Munaweera skying a slog against the line of a slider. They seemed like rash shots, but Shakib used subtle variations: a lower point of release, a discernible adjustment of length, wide yorkers and late drop on his flighted deliveries. His performance set the tone for Bangladesh's resounding series-levelling victory.
Jason Behrendorff
4 for 21 vs India
second T20I, Guwahati

Behrendorff's first delivery in the match was a wide full toss that was sliced through point for four by Rohit Sharma. His third ball too was driven for four. Behrendorff then adjusted his line, while keeping his length intact, bringing the ball down straighter, using his swing. He trapped Rohit in front next ball, and two deliveries later, had Virat Kohli caught and bowled via an inside edge. In his second over, he had Manish Pandey caught behind and in his third, dismissed Shikhar Dhawan. India never really recovered and were bowled out for 118 as Australia broke their seven-game losing streak against them in T20Is.
Sunil Narine
2 for 15 vs England
only T20I, Chester-le-Street

Narine has earned his reputation in the shortest format, and though he has been forced to remodel his action several times, batsmen still treat his four overs with caution. In his first nine balls against England on a chilly evening in Chester-le-Street, seven were dot balls. Anticipating big shots with the asking rate rising, Narine brought out his experience, awareness and defensive skills. He bowled an offbreak wider outside off, away from Eoin Morgan, who could only spoon a reverse sweep to short third man. He then had David Willey stumped to finish with 2 for 15 (including 12 dot balls).
Trent Boult
4 for 34 vs India
second T20I, Rajkot

Boult's role for New Zealand in limited-overs matches is two-pronged: use the swinging ball to take early wickets and then mop up in the end overs. In splendid batting conditions in Rajkot, New Zealand rode on Colin Munro's 58-ball 109 to post 196, but India backed their deep batting unit on a dewy night. Boult had the decisive say, though. In his first over, he jagged one back in sharply to go through Shikhar Dhawan's defence. Then he generated appreciable bounce and movement to find Rohit Sharma's outside edge. Towards the closing stages, he dismissed MS Dhoni and Axar Patel, finishing with a career best in the same week in which he endured his worst T20I and ODI figures.
Jasprit Bumrah
2 for 9 vs New Zealand
third T20I, Thiruvananthapuram

In an eight-over shootout at the Greenfield Stadium, New Zealand had a rare chance to steal an away series win against India after they restricted India to 67 on a sluggish, grippy pitch. By modern T20 batting standards, scoring at slightly over eight an over with all resources available isn't a hard task. Not when Bumrah is on song, though. He used a variety of slower balls and yorkers in a two-over spell that swung the game in India's favour. He first dismissed Colin Munro, fresh off a hundred, with an offcutter, and in the penultimate over, when Henry Nicholls premeditated a scoop in an attempt to put Bumrah off his length, another offcutter resulted in a simple catch at short fine leg.
Click here for the T20I batting shortlist

Nikhil Kalro is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo