In the middle of the big hitting, the following bowling spells stood out the most at ICC World Twenty20 2012
(6/8, Sri Lanka v Zimbabwe, 18 September)
It had been nearly nine months since Ajantha Mendis played at the highest level, laid low by a lower back injury. After warming up nicely with a good domestic season, Mendis arrived at the opening game of the ICC World Twenty20 2012 with the kind of hunger that you rarely find in international cricketers. Zimbabwe had no answer as Mendis unleashed his bag of tricks with unerring accuracy. His figures of 4-2-8-6, the best in T20Is, will take some beating.
(3/26, Australia v Ireland, 19 September)
Watson is one of a handful of players to open the batting and the bowling in Twenty20 Internationals, and he again showed what value he brings to the Australia side. He fired the first salvo against a dangerous Ireland, firing out William Porterfield, the captain, off the first delivery of the match with a well-directed bouncer. And just as Ireland was staging a recovery of sorts through the O’Brien brothers, Niall and Kevin, he returned to dismiss both in the same over.
(3/24, India v Afghanistan, 19 September)
Afghanistan was making a spirited chase of India’s 159 for 5. The target was some distance away but India was clearly worried when Mahendra Singh Dhoni turned to Yuvraj. With his very first delivery, Yuvraj trapped Nawroz Mangal, the Afghanistan captain, in front. He went on to take two more wickets in his third over through a combination of accuracy and guile. Two sixes in his final over marred his figures somewhat, but from India’s perspective, it was a crucial four-over spell.
(4/15, South Africa v Zimbabwe, 20 September)
The mark of the true professional is that he brings his best game to the fore every time he steps out on to the park. Jacques Kallis, who has played such a huge volume of cricket in his career, would’ve been forgiven for taking it easy against Zimbabwe. What happened instead was that Kallis bent his back and put everything into a four-over spell that had Zimbabwe’s batsmen hopping. It’s not often that short-pitched bowling is decisive on a Sri Lankan pitch, but Kallis, with 4 for 15, showed that anything was possible with the right effort.
(1/22, Afghanistan v England, 21 September)
Zadran, a strapping right-arm quick with not inconsiderable pace and the ability to move the ball away from the right-hand batsman, was singularly responsible for keeping England under 200 with a probing four-over burst that needed careful watching. As his colleagues were leaking runs by the bucketful, Zadran gave precious little away, forcing England to look for other avenues to score runs. On the back of figures of 1 for 25 from four against India, it was a particularly impressive effort from a young man with very little experience of big-time international cricket.
(3/16, New Zealand v Bangladesh, 21 September)
This match will always be remembered for Brendon McCullum clouting a world-record 123 off only 58 balls. But, flying under the radar, Tim Southee put in a workmanlike effort, chipping away at Bangladesh’s hopes. After removing Nasir Hossain (50), the only batsman to resist, Southee snuffed out any hopes of a revival to finish with 3 for 16.
(2/10, South Africa v Sri Lanka, 22 September)
When rain reduced the Sri Lanka-South Africa match at Hambantota to only seven overs a side, the pressure on the bowlers increased manifold, even if their workload was cut down. Every ball mattered, and only two bowlers would get to bowl two overs, the rest having to settle for one each. Steyn cranked up the speed gun, making every one of those 12 balls count. Sri Lanka’s top order could barely lay bat to ball, and it seemed that when they did manage to do so, the ball went straight to hand.
(1/17, England v India, 23 September)
No other England bowler went for under eight an over, but Graeme Swann was fairly outstanding against India with his off-spinners, some of which turned a mile. His battle against Virat Kohli was worth going miles to watch. Kohli was desperate to impose himself, and Swann brought all his experience into play to keep the young man in check. In all, there were 18 fours and one six in the India innings; in 24 deliveries, Swann didn’t concede a single boundary and he won the personal battle with Kohli, forcing a frustrated hoick to deep mid-wicket.
(4/12, India v England, 23 September)
It was a fairytale return to international cricket for Harbhajan, who finished with the best figures by an Indian in Twenty20 Internationals. Harbhajan struck in his first over in international cricket for more than 13 and a half months, producing an excellent top-spinner to clean up Eoin Morgan. He then bowled with absolute mastery, mixing up his top-spinner, the stock off-break and the doosra with telling effect to spin a mesmeric web around England, which crashed to its lowest T20I total and its heaviest T20I defeat.
(4/30, Pakistan v New Zealand, 23 September)
New Zealand was always going to struggle to get to 178, but its chase was well and truly scuttled by Ajmal’s consistency and probing lines. Daniel Vettori skied one to extra-cover, Jacob Oram had his stumps knocked back going for the mighty swipe, while both Tim Southee and Nathan McCullum fell going for big hits in the final stages. Ajmal struck in three different overs to seal a 13-run win.
(Performances listed in chronological order)