As Asia Cup 2023 draws near, the best teams from the continent are gearing up for an intense battle on-field. The stage is set for sizzling action, fireworks, banter, and tense moments that are sure to keep the spectators and the millions of audiences watching on TV at the edge of their seats. 

As all the teams participating in this premium tournament are looking at it as a preparation for the mega event to be held later this year, i.e., the World Cup 2023, cricket lovers can be sure that the teams and players will come out all guns blazing. While all the cricketing fans worldwide will be eager to see the India and Pakistan locking horns, the tournament will also feature four other teams, including Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Nepal.

Since its inception in 1984, Asia Cup has a rich history of creating some epic moments and individual brilliance. So, in this blog, we look at some of the best bowling performances in Asia Cup history. 

So, without any further ado, let us take a look the best bowling performances in the history of Asia Cup. 

Saqlain Mushtaq

Nationality – Pakistani

Asia cup edition – 1997

Bowling figures – five for 38 (5/38)

Opponent – Bangladesh

Venue – Colombo, Sri Lanka

Arguably one of the greatest spinners Pakistan has ever produced, Saqlain troubled the batters all over the world with his subtle variations and guile. He had an illustrious career and was one of Pakistan’s go-to bowlers to produce a wicket when they needed the most. 

He was every captain’s delight and an impact player in ever side and format he played. Throughout his career he produced many brilliant spells. But, one of his most notable performances came during the Asia Cup in 1997 against the mighty Bangladesh where the literally turned the game in Pakistan’s favour and helped his team register a comprehensive win. 

The match was played at the Premadasa stadium in Colombo, Sri Lanka, and after posting a big total of 309, Pakistan went into the break with their confidence high. But, when the Bangladesh came out to bat, they looked like they were on course to chase down the target. But Saqlain spun a web around the Bangladeshi batters and picked five wickets in the match, eventually bowling out the entire team for a paltry 210. 

Arshad Ayub 

Nationality – Indian

Asia cup edition – 1988

Bowling figures – five for 17 (5/17)

Opponent – Pakistan

Venue – Dhaka, Bangladesh

Arshad Ayub was a surprise weapon in India’s armoury when they took the field in a match against the archrivals, Pakistan during the Asia Cup match in 1988. When he came onto bowl on a spin-friendly wicket, he delivered his best figures, which remained the best bowling performance in Asia Cup by any bowler for many years, only to be later surpassed by another spinner Ajantha Mendis. 

Ayub with his picture-perfect action, deceived the Pakistani batters with his slow turners and other variations. After having a good start to their innings, Pakistan was on course to set a big score until Ayub came on to bowl. He immediately removed one of their start batter, Ramiz Raja, and the ran through the lower middle order, and skittled Pakistan for a modest 142, giving India a comfortable win.

Ajantha Mendis

Nationality – Sri Lankan

Asia cup edition – 2008

Bowling figures – Six for 19 (6/19)

Opponent – India

Venue – Karachi, Pakistan

Every aspiring cricketer’s ultimate goal is to represent their nation at the highest level. And, Ajantha Mendis made his dream come true in the most remarkable way he could have imagined. The mystery spinner from the Emerald Island donned the Sri Lankan cap for the first time in a high-pressure, Asia Cup final in 2008.

He had already made quite a name for himself in the Sri Lankan domestic circuit but playing against a strong international side like India could overwhelm anyone but Mendis. India was held favourites to lift the trophy but Mendis left the formidable Indian batting line-up bamboozled and ended up scalping six wickets, including prized wickets of Yuvraj Singh, Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina. 

When you talk of bowling records in Asia Cup, Ajanta Mendi’s performance in 2008 finals still remains the best performance in Asia Cup (ODIs). Chasing a target of 273, India got off to a brilliant start as the Nawab of Najafgarh, Virender Sehwag smashed the Lankan bowlers all over the park. 

But, soon, things changed in favour of the Lankan Lion as Mendis came into bowl inside the powerplay overs. He triggered the Indian downfall by removing the dangerous Sehwag and later unleashed all his variations at the Indian batters. His brilliant spell made the India batting ordinary and eventually they were bowled out for 173. The Sri Lankans took home the trophy and were once again named the Asian Champions. 

Virender Sehwag

Nationality – Indian

Asia cup edition – 2010

Bowling figures – four for (4/6)

Opponent – Bangladesh

Venue – Dambulla, Sri Lanka

Virender ‘smashing’ Sehwag was known for its all-out attacking batting style. Inspired by his idol, the great Sachin Tendulkar, he copied his style and left a forever mark in the Indian and global cricketing world. Aggression was his second name, and he instilled fear among the best bowling attacks in the world. 

While his prowess with the bat was undisputable, he was more than a handy bowler. Captains used him as a part-time spinner and with his gentle off-spinners he got India many wickets mostly during crunch situations. Thus, he earned the moniker, ‘man with the golden arms.’ 

Giving his best bowling performance in Asia Cup, Sehwag troubled the Bangladeshi batters and picked up key wickets and triggered a collapse and ran through the tailenders. His brilliant effort helped India restrict their opposition to 167 runs, which became an easy chase and they went onto win the match easily with more than 120 balls to spare. 

Aaqib Javed 

Nationality – Pakistani

Asia cup edition – 1995

Bowling figures – five for 21 (5/21)

Opponent – India

Venue – Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

During the 80s and the 90s, Pakistan had one of the best fast bowling attacks in the world. Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, and Aaquib Javed were a dangerous trio to play against. All of them match winners in their own right had the ability to wreak havoc on the opposition. 

While Aaqib was fast and fierce, he was often criticized by the pundits for his inconsistent performance. And, he silenced all his critics by producing one of the best bowling performances in the history of the Asia Cup against India. 

Playing at Sharjah, Pakistan batter first and posted a decent total of 266. It was always going to be a difficult chase for India with the opposition having the best bowling attach in the tournament. Although they had solid start to the inning, none of the Indian batsmen had any answer to the reverse swing of Javed. 

He ran through the Indian top and middle-order, leaving India in utter shock from which they never recovered and went to lose the match by 97 runs. Every time someone mentions the best bowling performance in Asia Cup, Javed’s efforts in this match is rated among the top 5 performances of all time. 

His accuracy, and pace was too much for India to handle and they looked meek against his brilliance. After this performance, he was compared to the greats like Malcom Marshall and touted to be the next big thing in world cricket. 

Muttiah Muralitharan

Nationality – Sri Lankan

Asia cup edition – 2008

Bowling figures – Five for 31 (5/31)

Opponent – Bangladesh

Venue – Karachi, Pakistan

When you talk about best bowling performances in Asia Cup, the great man Muttiah Muralitharan ought to feature in the list. The all-time highest wicket taker in cricket, he is undeniably the best-off spinner the world has seen. During his hey days, he was the mainstay of the Sri Lankan bowling attack and often single-handedly led his team to victory. 

Known for his unique action, this ICC (International Cricket Council) Hall of Famer, had a knack of turning the ball square on any track and irrespective of the playing conditions. Amongst his many amazing performances, his brilliant spell in the 2008-edition Asia Cup against the Bangladesh is considered among the top in the tournament’s history. 

The master spinner strangled the Bangladesh batters and left them in awe of his amazing skills. Bangladesh, while chasing a big target were already under tremendous pressure and Muralitharan made things worse for them. He claimed five wickets in the match and led his team to the victory with a massive margin of 155 runs. 

So, there you go, you have the best bowling performances in Asia Cup history (ODIs). It is a premium tournament and always tends to bring out the best among the players. With the 2023 edition of the Asia Cup starting on 30th August, get ready from sizzling action and some spectacular performances. 

If you are travelling during the tournament, you can enjoy watching the matches in the most comfortable setting imaginable by booking your stay at one of the Club Mahindra resorts in your destination. Every room at the resort is equipped with a flat screen TV and you can catch all the action. 

  • Cricket
  • Asia Cup

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