They are the men who know just how to elicit a fruitful time with the cherry. They pose as the antithesis to the glorified stroke-makers, striking with deadly precision to make the willow-wielders stop dead in their tracks. They are the ones that lead the attack and their armoury is defined by speed and swing and bounce and cut and turn and drift and flight. These are the soldiers that know how to unsettle the bails and rattle the furniture, how to break through the defences of batsmen or sucker them into fatal shots. Today Oneindia Cricket pays tribute to the top ten wicket-takers on cricket's greatest stage - the World Cup. These are masters of their trade who effortlessly rise above mediocrity to put their respective sides ahead.
Quite possibly India's quickest-ever bowler, Javagal Srinath was the nation's second most successful paceman overall (after Kapil) and its most prosperous offering in World Cups. With a strong shoulder-action, Srinath would hit the pitch with venom and while his armoury mainly contained leg-cutters and in-swingers, he would occasionally get the ball to move the other way as well. He left his mark in the big event, ensnaring 44 wickets from 34 matches at an average of decent 27.81 and a good economy rate of 4.32. Srinath's best performance in World Cups came in the 2003 edition when he helped bowl out the Netherlands for 136 with figures of 4/30.
A shrewd and penetrative speedster, Chaminda Vaas carried the tag of spearhead of Sri Lanka for well over a decade. Developing a keen knack to swing and seam the ball, Vaas' patent delivery was the late in-dipper. Vaas also proved to eb a proficient off-cutter and reverse-swinger, characteristics which earned him the topmost place on the list of wicket-takers in 2003 World Cup (with 23 scalps). In the four edition of the mega-tournament that he has appeared in, Vaas has garnered a tally of 49 wickets from 31 matches at a top-average of 21.22 and a frugal economy rate of 3.97. His exploits in the big event are highlighted by a 6/25 against Bangladesh in the 2003 edition, including a hat-trick.
His unusual bowling action ignited much controversy, but there's no doubting that Muralitharan is one of the greatest players to ever spin the ball. His deformed elbow, incredible supple wrists and and quickly rotating shoulder aids him in spinning a web of guile around the batsman. He has been able to achieve what most finger-spinners can't because he developed a deadly wrong-one and a destructive top-spinner. It's this combination that made him a force to reckon with in World Cups as he currently has 533 wickets in the kitty from 31 matches at an ominous average of 19.68 and an economy rate of 3.83. Hie best performance in the mega-event came in the 2007 edition where he picked up 4/19 against a befuddled Irish team.
Regarded by many as the greatest left-arm fast bowler ever, Wasim Akram glowing record would certainly attest to the claim. Akram has proved time again to be a master of swing and seam who can on occasion move the ball both ways in the same ball. He can also disguise his deliveries well enough to make a bouncer or slower ball come out as a real surprise. It's such deception that had enabled him to garner a total of 55 wickets from n38 World Cup matches at an average of 23.83 and an economy rate of 4.04. A highlight was his 5/28 against Namibia in the 2003 World Cup, although he would probably cherish his 3/49 against England in the final of 1992 event more.
Any batsman's ultimate nemesis, Glenn McGrath could nip in the plans of great strokemakers in the bud with his ability to strike early and with regularity through the opposition's innings. His 6"5' frame enabled him to scramble his lengths astutely, making him unplayable at times. McGrath is far and away the highest wicket-taker in the World Cup, dangling a prize-tally of 71 scalps from just 39 matches, while conceding 18.19 runs per wicket and 3.96 runs per over. A hapless Namibia had no answers against him as his 7/15 in their 2003 World Cup encounter, bowled out the minnows for a paltry 45.