Cricket is often considered a batsman’s game, as the rules favor them more than the bowlers. But we have still witnessed some great bowling performances throughout the history of the sport; bowlers have created a name for themselves with their heroics on the field.
Some players inscribe their name in history by achieving records that stand for years to come. A hat-trick is one such rare feat in cricket, which every bowler hopes to achieve at least once in their international cricket career.
Taking 3 wickets off 3 consecutive balls is no easy task as it has happened only 100 times over 130 years - 48 times in ODIs, 44 times in Tests and 8 times in T20Is.
Of those already rare instances, some bowlers went an even rarer step further by picking 4 wickets off 4 consecutive deliveries. Here is a look at those three instances:
#3 Lasith Malinga vs South Africa, 2007
Known for his unique bowling action and deadly yorkers, Lasith Malinga became the first person in cricket history to achieve this rare feat.
In the 2007 World Cup Super-8 game, Sri Lanka posted a below-average total of 209 runs on the board against South Africa. The Proteas were well on course to achieving the target until 44th over, with Jacques Kallis being the backbone of the chase.
Malinga then bowled a memorable spell which pushed the Proteas into a state of turmoil. He dismissed Shaun Pollock and Andrew Hall off the final 2 deliveries of the 45th over, and then returned to dismiss the dangerous Kallis and Makaya Nitini in the first 2 deliveries of the 47th over, thus picking 4 wickets off 4 deliveries.
Despite Malinga's heroics, South Africa edged past Sri Lanka to win the match by one wicket. Malinga finished with figures of 9.2-0-54-4.
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#2 Rashid Khan vs Ireland, 2019
Rashid Khan is undoubtedly one of the best T20 players in the world. He has been in tremendous form lately, with some mind-blowing performances across the globe.
Earlier this year, the cricketing world witnessed one such performance that proved yet again why he was the best when it came to T20 cricket.
In the 3rd T20I against Ireland, Afghanistan were asked to bat first. The Afghans posted a humongous score of 210 in 20 overs with the help of Mohammed Nabi’s blistering 81, which came in 36 balls.
In response, Ireland started on the right note as Kevin O’Brien and Andrew Balbirnie added 96 runs for the second wicket. But Rashid then spun a web across the Ireland batsmen, which completely derailed the chase.
He removed the well-settled O’Brien on the final ball of the 16th over, thus denting their confidence. In the next over, Rashid completely killed the contest by scalping George Dockrell, Shane Getkate and Simi Singh in 3 consecutive deliveries.
Rashid thus became the first bowler in T20I history and second across all international cricket to pick 4 wickets off 4 balls. Ireland could never recover in the chase as they ended up with a score of 178 in their 20 overs, thus losing by 32 runs.
Rashid ended with figures of 5/27 in his 4 overs.
#1 Lasith Malinga vs New Zealand, 2019
In the series against New Zealand Lasith Malinga was being severely criticized for his fitness and performances, which weren't up to the mark due to his age. But he shut everyone up with a single memorable spell.
In the 3rd T20I game the Lankans were asked to bat first, but their innings stumbled as Mitchell Santner and Todd Astle picked 3 wickets each. As a result, Sri Lanka ended up with a score of 125 runs in 20 overs.
Chasing 126, Black Caps had a horrendous start. Malinga removed Colin Munro, Hamish Rutherford, Colin de Grandhomme and Ross Taylor off 4 consecutive balls in the 3rd over to leave New Zealand in deep trouble.
Malinga thus became the only bowler in cricket history to take 4 wickets off 4 consecutive balls twice. The New Zealand batsmen could not recover from the heavy blows as they were dismissed for a paltry 88 runs in 16 overs.
Malinga’s figures read 5/6 in 4 overs, including a maiden. He thus proved that he still had it in him to deliver match-winning performances, irrespective of his age.