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Asif Karim 8.2-6-7-3 Kenya v Australia 2003

Asif Karim had captained Kenya unsuccessfully in the 1999 World Cup. Coming out from retirement for the 2003 world cup, he had barely touched either ball or bat in the preceding 4 years. After surprisingly qualifying for the world cup semi-finals, Kenya had an inconsequential match against Australia. Forced to defend a modest 175, the Kenyan bowling was being whacked around like the bad guys in a Rambo movie. Enter Asif Karim, after giving away 2 runs in his first over, he bowled 6 maidens on the trot, and took the wickets of Ponting, Lehman and Hogg in the process. A single and a boundary slightly smudged his figures but they were godlike when the rest of the bowlxing was going at 7.2 per over.

John Davison 36-5-137-17 Canada v USA 2004

John Davison had already inked his name in the record books during the World Cup 2003, and he found another place in history during the 2004 Intercontinental Cup. In a low scoring encounter at the Brian Piccolo Park in Florida, Davison bamboozled the neighbours with 8 for 61 in the first inning and 9 for 76 in the second inning to singlehandedly crush America to defeat. To ensure that he remained in contention for the Man-of-the-match, he was also the top scorer in the match with 84 in the first innings and the captain too. His 17 for 137 was also the best first-class figures since … Jim Laker’s 19 for 90 in 1956. Davison’s figures were also the best for any ground named after an NFL running back.

Allan Border 44.4-13-96-11 Australia v West Indies 1989

Having been comprehensively destroyed in the first 3 Tests by the all-conquering 80’s West Indies side, Australia produced a Sydney pitch that looked like it was airlifted straight out of the sub-continent. There Allan Border produced his secret weapon- his left arm spin that had taken 16 wickets in 100 previous Tests.  In the 1st inning, Border came 3rd change and took 7 wickets for 46, sinking the Windies for 224, then after scoring the slowest 75 of the southern hemisphere, he came back in the 2nd innings to take the last 4 wickets, completing a ten-for (which neither Bob Willis nor Jeff Thompson had accomplished). West Indies crumbled for 256, leaving Australia with a simple target of 82. Fittingly Border was not out at the end.

P Collingwood 10-1-31-6 England v Bangladesh 2005

Paul Collingwood’s performance against Bangladesh was probably the most statistically superlative all-round performance in the ODIs. Batting first, powered by an Andrew Strauss 152, England scrambled to a modest 391, with a minor contribution from Collingwood who scored a mere 112 not out from 86 balls. Chasing this gargantuan total, Bangladesh surprisingly faltered losing the first 2 wickets in consecutive balls. From then on, it was the Collingwood show, who took the next 6 wickets in 10 overs of partnership breaking mayhem. That performance was the only the second time a player scored a century and took 5 wickets in the same ODI since Viv Richards accomplished the feat in 1987. Also quite surprisingly, it’s the best bowling figures by an Englishman in ODIs.

Brian Langford 8-8-0-0 Somerset v Essex 1969

There is almost no information regarding former Somerset off spinner and captain, Brian Langford, so unsurprisingly there is very little info regarding this match too. From what we know Langford won the toss (he was the captain here too) and justifiably put Essex in to bat. And after a period of shine removing, he mesmerized Essex into a trance where they forgot that they were scoring at 4 an over against the other bowlers and that Greg Chappell took 3 wickets, or that a single down the leg-side is possible. A solitary leg bye was the only extra in the innings. Finally Essex were dismissed for 126 in 38.2 overs in a 40 over contest. Adding insult to injury was the fact that Somerset won by only 2 wickets with 5 balls in hand, having an overall run-rate slower than Essex. So, in all likelihood Langford won Somerset a match by miserly bowling 48 dot-balls on the trot.

A Jadeja 1-0-3-3 India v England 1999

The unlikely bowling superstar of this match was Ajay Jadeja. Needing 27 to win in 4 overs with 4 wickets, England could be said to have more than a fair chance at victory. Enter Jadeja, the 7th bowler for India. Jadeja had last taken an ODI wicket in 1996 and was a surprising choice by all accepted standards of surprise. However Jadeja struck with his second ball, getting rid of Croft and then a ball later getting Fairbrother caught behind, and then with the last ball, clean bowling Gough. With 3 wickets in an over, Jadeja turned the equation of the match comprehensively in India’s favour, which India later won by 20 runs.

C Langeveldt 9.5-0-62-5 South Africa v West Indies 2005

In this encounter, neither was the bowler surprising, nor at first glance were the figures. What was surprising though was the manner in which these figures were accomplished. Chasing 285, West Indies, helped by a magnificent Chris Gayle innings, needed 2 runs from 4 balls with 3 wickets in hand, and then Langeveldt took a the ball while a thousand monkeys were writing the Hamlet. And then came a performance so improbable that only a monkey could have written it. Langeveldt clean bowled Bradshaw and Powell and got Collymore lbw, completing an extremely unlikely hat-trick which single handedly won South Africa the match.

J Krejza 74.5-4-358-12 Australia v India 2008

Jason Krejza was one of the long list of Australian spinners who auditioned for the role of Shane Warne following his retirement. It seemed that Krejza would be a passenger on the tour of India after a disastrous tour match where he had figures of 31-2-197-0. However, Australia gambled on him, and with the tourists 1-0 down, he made his debut. Immediately the much vaunted Indian batting line-up took a liking to him and Krejza was pasted by all. Krejza however, engineered a spectacular collapse while being simultaneously thwacked by India, on the way to the most expensive 8 wicket haul of all time. When the second innings came around, it was the same story striking quickly while giving away runs like a leaking drain-pipe. Krejza’s figures contained the most runs conceded in a 10 wicket haul and the second highest number of runs conceded in a test overall. Australia lost the match and Krejza played only 1 more test, giving away runs but taking fewer wickets. As for Australia, the auditions continue.

Basil Butcher 13.4-2-35-5 West Indies v England 1968

Basil Butcher was a wristy, dependable right handed batsman for the Windies in the 60’s. As it turns out his leg breaks were not much in demand during his career, and he took only 5 wickets and bowled only 6 times during his 44 test career. The surprising part is that all 5 wickets were grabbed in a single innings of leg-spinning awesomeness, where he helped West Indies get a tidy little lead of 122 runs by dismissing Colin Cowdrey and the tail enders, causing the last 5 wickets to fall for 31 runs. After a courageous declaration by Sobers, he was unsuccessful in the second innings where England chased 215 to win. And Butcher never took a wicket before or since.

M Clarke 6.2-0-9-6 Australia v India 2004

Another entry in the “Australian defeats in an away encounter against India column”, this one ranks just as highly in the surprise factor. Having already lost the series, India produced a pitch that turned backwards. In a very low scoring encounter, India had grabbed the advantage by leading by 91 runs with 6 wickets in hand. And now, we present yet another collapse story, this time it’s Clarke, playing his debut series, having already scored a century in his 1st match put another feather in his cap by taking the last 6 wickets, which India duly lost for 23 runs. The celebrations were short-lived though as Australia failed to chase 104, getting dismissed for 93.





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