Cricket World Cup History: 5 players with most wickets in the tournament

Shubham Athwani

Lasith Malinga is one of Sri Lanka's best bowlers

The World Cup 2019 is heading to the business stages of the tournament and the tournament, barring a few of lop-sided encounters has produced a couple of equitable battles between bat and ball.

Such is the shift in the rules of the sport that cricket is often considered as a batsman's game but on quite a few occasions, teams have won matches based on top performances from the bowling unit.

There are several games in the World Cup where a bowler has sealed the game for his team. In the ongoing ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, the bowlers are playing a crucial role in their team's campaign towards the knockout stages.

Just as important as it is for the batsmen to notch up a whole lot of runs, the key though, for teams lies with the bowling unit. A number of bowlers have enjoyed terrific outings in the history of the World Cup which have gone on to win matches for their team.

Here are the top five bowlers, who have the most wickets in the history of the World Cup.

#5 - Chaminda Vaas (Sri Lanka) - 49 wickets from 31 matches

Chaminda Vaas in Cricket World Cup 2003

Chaminda Vaas played cricket for 15 years for Sri Lanka and was always amongst the wickets. He played four World Cups for Sri Lanka in 1996, 1999, 2003 and 2007.

While Sri Lanka won the Cup in 1996, he did not make much of an impact and picked just six wickets from six matches. However, he was the leading wicket-taker of the tournament in 2003 where he took 23 wickets at a brilliant average of 14.39.

In the same tournament, Vaas took a hat-trick against Bangladesh and became the first player to take a hat-trick with the first three balls of a ODI match. In this match, he recorded best-ever figures by a Sri Lankan bowler in World Cup, with 6/25 from 9.1 overs.

His overall Cricket World Cup record stands at 49 wickets from 31 matches at an average of 21.22 runs and an economy of 3.97.

Overall Statistics in World Cups

Matches: 31

Wickets: 49

Best Bowling: 9.1-2-25-6 v Bangladesh (2003 World Cup)

Also read – World cup most wickets

#4 Lasith Malinga (Sri Lanka) - 51* wickets from 26 matches

Lasith Malinga during the World Cup 2019

Lasith Malinga is fourth in the list of highest wicket-takers in World Cup and he is currently participating in the World Cup 2019. Malinga has represented Sri Lanka in four World Cups in 2007, 2011, 2015 and currently in 2019.

Malinga became the quickest to take 50 wickets in World Cup history surpassing Glenn McGrath and Muralitharan who completed this feat in 30 matches. His best figures of 6/38 came against Kenya during the World Cup 2011.

In the ongoing World Cup, Malinga held his nerves and took 4/43 to devastate the World Cup 2019 hosts and favorites England and won the game for Sri Lanka from the jaws of defeat. With Sri Lanka still in with a chance of qualifying for the semifinals, Malinga will play a key role.

Overall Statistics in World Cups

Matches: 26*

Wickets- 51*

Best Bowling: 7.4-0-38-6 v Kenya (2011 World Cup)

#3 Wasim Akram (Pakistan) - 55 wickets from 38 matches

Wasim Akram during the 1992 World Cup

Wasim Akram is one of the best bowlers Pakistan has ever produced. One of the best exponents of the swinging ball, he is third in the list of highest wicket-taker in the World Cup.

He played five World Cups for Pakistan in 1987, 1992, 1996, 1999 and 2003. He was the 'Man of the Match' in the final of the 1992 World Cup and owing to his performance throughout, Pakistan lifted the trophy for the first time.

Akram took 18 wickets in 10 matches averaging 18.78 in World Cup 1992, which saw Pakistan clinching the trophy in the end. He bowled brilliantly throughout the tournament but his magical spell came at the final of the World Cup against England in which he took three wickets and stole the game away from England.

Overall Statistics in World Cups

Matches: 38

Wickets: 55

Best Bowling: 9-1-28-5 v Namibia (2003 World Cup)

#2 Muttiah Muralitharan (Sri Lanka) - 68 wickets from 40 matches

Muttiah Muralitharan was one of Sri Lanka's best spinners

Muttiah Muralitharan is considered as one of the greatest ever spin bowlers and it comes as no surprise that he is the second-highest wicket-taker in the World Cup. He has played five World Cups for Sri Lanka in 1996, 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2011. He also has the best economy rate (3.88) in this list.

In his debut World Cup, he took 7 wickets and was quite economical. In 1999 he was able to pick only 6 wickets, but in the 2003 he was the second highest wicket-taker for Sri Lanka and took 17 wickets. In the 2007 World Cup he was the second-highest wicket-taker of the tournament and took 23 wickets. In his farewell World Cup 2011, he took 15 wickets in total and was leading wicket-taker for Sri Lanka.

Overall Statistics in World Cups

Matches: 40

Wickets: 68

Best Bowling: 5-0-19-4 v Ireland (2007 World Cup)

#1 Glenn McGrath (Australia) - 71 wickets from 39 matches

Glenn McGrath

Glenn McGrath is the leading wicket-taker in World Cup history. He also holds the record for the best figures in the World Cup (7/15 against Namibia in World Cup 2003).

McGrath is one of the few players to have lifted the World Cup on three separate occasions – 1999, 2003 and 2007. He played for Australia in four World Cups in 1996, 1999, 2003 and 2007.

He played seven matches in his debut World Cup and took six wickets. During the 1999 World Cup,he did exceptionally well and took 18 wickets and helped his team to win a second World Cup Trophy. He bettered his show in 2003 with 21 wickets.

McGrath's best performance in a World Cup came in his last World Cup, in which he took 26 wickets and helped Australia to win the World Cup for a record fourth time.

Overall Statistics in World Cups

Matches: 39

Wickets: 71

Best Bowling: 7-4-15-7 v Namibia (2003 World Cup)