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The five best bowling performances of the first stage

Last updated on: March 23, 2011 10:56 IST

Afridi's bowling has exceeded all expectations

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Bikash Mohapatra

It's a fact that the ICC World Cup matches in India have been mostly dominated by batsmen.

However, the bowlers haven't got a raw deal.

In most of the matches played in both Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, the bowlers -- especially the spinners -- got a fair bit of purchase.

For that matter, even on Indian wickets, a few bowlers did make a mark.

As the tournament moves towards the knock-out stage, rediff.com takes a look at a few exceptional bowling efforts in the group stage of the tournament.

Shahid Afridi

Many expected Shahid Afridi to play a starring role with the bat.

Pakistan's captain has starred with the ball instead.

While his batting was disappointing, his bowling exceeded all expectations.

Be it his five for 16 for Kenya or his five for 23 against Canada, even his four for 34 against Sri Lanka, all have been match-winning efforts.

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With 17 wickets from six matches, Afridi leads the bowling charts going into the knock-out stage.

And if he is to be believed, he hasn't done anything differently.

"I am trying to bowl wicket-to-wicket," Afridi said, explaining his success with the ball.

"The conditions are good for spinners and I am just trying to utilize the same," he added.


Image: Shahid Afridi
Photographs: Getty Images
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Bresnan puts the brakes on India's innings

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Tim Bresnan

It is a noteworthy effort, considering it came on the flat wicket of the Chinnaswamy stadium in Bangalore.

Team India was comfortably placed at 305 for four, after the 46th over, when Tim Bresnan came in to bowl his final spell; his figures then read 8-1-37-1.

- Images: India, England tie on 338 runs

When he finished his spell (end of the 49th over), India's scorecard read 329 for eight.

The 26-year-old had taken the vital wickets of MS Dhoni, Yusuf Pathan, Virat Kohli and Harbhajan Singh -- the last three in the space of four balls in his final over, and put the brakes on the Indian scoring rate.

His efforts helped keep England in the game.

And Andrew Strauss did the rest.


Image: Tim Bresnan is congratulated by teammates after taking wicket of Virender Sehwag
Photographs: Reuters
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'Slinga' Malinga rips apart Kenyan batsmen

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Lasith Malinga

It was a vital match for Sri Lanka; they had suffered an unexpected defeat at the hands of Pakistan and needed to get back to winning ways ahead of an important match against holders Australia (eventually rained out).

And it was a vital match for Lasith Malinga.

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- Images: Hat-trick man Malinga destroys Kenya

The 27-year-old was playing his first game in the tournament, having missed the opening two owing to lack of fitness.

But he delivered, ripping apart the Kenyan batting, taking six wickets -- including a hat-trick, the latter making him the first bowler to take two in the World Cup and fourth overall in one-dayers -- after Wasim Akram, Saqlain Mushtaq and compatriot Chaminda Vaas.

It was his second notable effort in cricket's flagship event.

As regards the first, well who can forget those four-wickets-in-four-balls against South Africa at the Providence Stadium (Guyana)in the last World Cup.


Image: Lasith Malinga (left) celebrates his hat-trick after dismissing Kenya's Shem Ngoche
Photographs: Reuters
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Yuvraj's bowling stands out

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Yuvraj Singh

The star with the bat for Team India.

But whenever MS Dhoni called him up to deliver the goods with the ball, Yuvraj Singh did not disappointed.

Nine wickets in the tournament's first stage is good enough a haul for someone who is mostly used as a 'fifth bowler'.

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Half of those Yuvraj's wickets came against Ireland in Bangalore.

The left-armer's five for 31 helped Team India dismiss the Irish for a paltry 207.

And Yuvi returned to score an unbeaten 50 and steer his team through.


Image: Yuvraj Singh celebrates after picking up a five-wicket haul against Ireland
Photographs: Reuters
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Steyn stifles Indian batsmen

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Dale Steyn

It took him six years and 52 matches to achieve the feat.

However, for Dale Steyn his first five-wicket haul couldn't have come at a better time.

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The South African speedster's five for 50 against India in the Group B match in Nagpur ensured the hosts collapsed from a comfortable 267 for one to 296 all out -- losing their last nine wickets for the addition of just 29 runs in only 10 overs.

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It also capped a perfect comeback for the 27-year-old, who had gone for 24 in his opening three overs.

Even his re-introduction into the attack in the 10th over didn't work either -- Sachin Tendulkar pulling him over the backward square-leg for a maximum.

However, Steyn had the last laugh, playing a stellar role in South Africa's triumph and walking away with the man-of-the-match honours.


Image: Dale Steyn
Photographs: Getty Images
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