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Highest wicket-taker in ODI cricket: Most lethal bowlers

Sri Lanka’s star spinner Muttiah Muralitharan is the highest wicket-taker in ODI cricket, which is widely considered to be an unbelievable feat given how cricket has evolved to become a place difficult for bowlers to survive especially in limited-overs cricket.

Improvement of protective gear, field restriction powerplays, and most importantly, the rapid change in mindset due to the growth of T20 cricket – multiple factors have impacted the change we see in cricket today, but it just gives us more reasons to celebrate bowlers’ brilliance.

Bowling in limited-overs, especially ODIs, has always been a tricky task, let it be with the red ball or white ball. Some individuals over the years have thoroughly mastered this intricate art and etched their names in cricketing history books for eternity.

From the iconic Cathryn Fitzpatrick to the current generation stars like Jasprit Bumrah among speedsters, from veterans Muttiah Muralitharan or Anisa Mohammed to the likes of Rashid Khan right now, we have often found individuals who excelled in this craft despite the existing challenges.

Below is the list of bowlers who have excelled in the 50-0ver format over the years.

Highest wicket-taker in ODI cricket: Top 10 list

S. NO Player Span Matches Wickets BBI Average Economy 5w
1 Muttiah Muralitharan (Asia/ICC/SL) 1993-2011 350 534 7/30 23.08 3.93 10
2 Wasim Akram (PAK) 1984-2003 356 502 5/15 23.52 3.89 6
3 Waqar Younis (PAK) 1989-2003 262 416 7/36 23.84 4.68 13
4 Chaminda Vaas (Asia/SL) 1994-2008 322 400 8/19 27.53 4.18 4
5 Shahid Afridi (Asia/ICC/PAK) 1996-2015 398 395 7/12 34.51 4.62 9
6 Shaun Pollock (Afr/ICC/SA) 1996-2008 303 393 6/35 24.50 3.67 5
7 Glenn McGrath (AUS/ICC) 1993-2007 250 381 7/15 22.02 3.88 7
8 Brett Lee (AUS) 2000-2012 221 380 5/22 23.36 4.76 9
9 Lasith Malinga (SL) 2004-2019 226 338 6/38 28.87 5.35 8
10 Anil Kumble (Asia/INDIA) 1990-2007 271 337 6/12 30.89 4.30 2

Muttiah Muralitharan | 534 wickets

Perhaps the greatest cricketer Sri Lanka produced, Muttiah Muralitharan left an ever-lasting legacy in the game with his outrageous pyrotechnics across both formats. He is the first wicket taker in ODIs and Tests and was the first to reach 1,000 international dismissals. He has 534 scalps to his credit in ODIs.

Wasim Akram | 502 wickets

One of the game’s most lethal swing bowlers, Wasim Akram made the batters dance with his imperious skill and he remains one of the finest ODI match-winners of all time. He had 502 wickets to his credit before hanging up his boots in 2003.

Waqar Younis | 416 wickets

Wasim Akram’s partner in crime, Waqar Younis was as precarious to face as his left-arm seam partner, courtesy his pace and trademark toe-crushing yorkers. Younis also made great use of reverse-swing during his prolific career, which helped him pick 416 dismissals in the one-days, and also holds the record for most five-fers in this format.

Chaminda Vaas | 400 wickets

What he lacked in pace, Chaminda Vaas covered it up with metronomic accuracy and consistency. The seam bowler from Sri Lanka is regarded as one of the finest new ball bowlers of all time, and in his final ODI game, he became the 4th cricketer to complete 400 scalps in this format. The Sri Lankan pacer is also the only cricketer to pick 8 wickets in an innings in ODIs.

Shahid Afridi | 395 wickets

One of the game’s longest-serving cricketers, Shahid Afridi made his mark in the mid-90s and went on to become a revered name in Pakistan. He picked up 395 wickets in one-day international cricket in 398 matches, and played his final ODI game in 2015.

Shaun Pollock | 393 wickets

Shaun Pollock was a captivating cricketer during his times and contributed profusely with the bat and ball for his side. The former South African captain is 6th on the list of highest wicket-takers in men’s ODIs, having scalped 393 wickets to his credit and remains the highest wicket-taker in international cricket for his country.

Glenn McGrath | 381 wickets

There were very few match-winners among fast bowlers as lethal and prolific as the Australian talisman Glenn McGrath. The incredible seamer picked up 381 wickets in this format, 71 of which came in World Cups. He also holds the best bowling average among the top 10 wicket-takers in ODIs (22.02).  

Brett Lee | 380 wickets

One of the fastest bowlers the game has seen, Brett Lee terrorized batters with his speed and swing, and is rated as one of the greatest fast bowlers of all time. Lee has 380 victims in the one-day cricket in just 221 matches, and since the turn of the century (starting from 1-1-2000), no player has picked up more wickets in this format than him (380).

Lasith Malinga | 338 wickets

Lasith Malinga raised a lot of eyebrows with his unorthodox side-arm action, and he kept puzzling batters until his final days as an international cricketer. A fantastic match-winner for Sri Lanka during their heydays, Malinga registered 338 scalps in his ODI career.

Anil Kumble | 337 wickets

Former Indian captain Anil Kumble is one of the three spinners to have made it to this list, with 337 wickets picked up in 271 matches. He is the leading wicket-taker across all formats for India, and only two other players registered up more dismissals for their national team.  

Highest wicket-taker in Women’s ODI cricket

S. NO Player Span Matches Wickets BBI Average Economy 5w
1 Jhulan Goswami (IND-W) 2002-2022 204 255 6/31 22.04 3.37 2
2 Shabnim Ismail (SA-W) 2007-2022 127 191 6/10 19.95 3.70 2
3 Cathryn Fitzpatrick (AUS-W) 1993-2007 109 180 5/14 16.79 3.01 4
4 Anisa Mohammed (WI-W) 2003-2022 139 180 7/14 20.52 3.56 6
5 Katherine Brunt (ENG-W) 2005-2022 141 170 5/18 24.00 3.57 5
6 Ellyse Perry (AUS-W) 2007-2023 135 162 7/22 25.24 4.37 3
7 Stafanie Taylor (WI-W) 2008-2023 151 153 4/17 21.95 3.53
8 Sana Mir (PAK-W) 2005-2019 120 151 5/32 24.27 3.70 1
9 Marizanne Kapp (SA-W)  2009-2023 134 149 5/45 25.61 3.83 1
10 Lisa Sthalekar (AUS-W) 2001-2013 125 146 5/35 24.97 3.66 1

Jhulan Goswami | 255 wickets

During India’s 2022 ICC Women’s World Cup game against England, Jhulan Goswami became the first female cricketer to register 250 dismissals and leads the bowling charts by a very healthy margin. She has 255 wickets in 204 games at an incredible average of 22.04.

Shabnim Ismail | 191 wickets

Easily one of the best fast bowlers South Africa produced, Shabnim Ismail has had a stunning 15-year career thus far and has picked up 191 wickets during this time period, and is among the top wicket takers. The 33-year-old is the leading wicket-taker for South Africa and aims to add more to her record before hanging up her boots.

Cathryn Fitzpatrick | 180 wickets

The Australian stalwart Cathryn Fitzpatrick is hailed as the greatest bowler in women’s history and stats do back this statement quite a bit. She picked up 180 wickets in her illustrious 14-year career, at an astounding average of 16.79 and economy of just 3.01.

Anisa Mohammed | 180 wickets

Anisa Mohammed has been weaving her magic with those off-breaks for nearly 2 decades now and is the third-highest wicket-taker in WODIs. She is on level terms with Fitzpatrick, having picked up 180 scalps in 139 appearances, and could surpass the great Australian player in the ongoing World Cup.

Katherine Brunt | 170 wickets

One of the fastest bowlers in women’s cricket, Katherine Brunt often surprised the watching-world with her imperious pace, also the batters. She picked up 170 wickets in 141 games and is the fifth on this incredible list.

Ellyse Perry | 162 wickets

A modern-day great often hailed as the greatest Australian player of the century among men and women, it would be an understatement to say Ellyse Perry has left her mark on the game. This incredible all-rounder finds herself on this list with 162 wickets and aims to become the leading wicket-taker among Australians before bidding adieu.

Stafanie Taylor | 153 wickets

Just one shy of a landmark tally of wickets, West Indian skipper Stafanie Taylor is second only to Anisa Mohammed among leading wicket-takers for her country in WODIs. She has 153 wickets to her name in 151 games, at a highly impressive average of 21.95.

Sana Mir | 151 wickets

Former Pakistan captain Sana Mir was the first and only female player from her country to pick 100 wickets in ODIs. The off-break bowler who is currently plying her trade as a commentator picked up 151 wickets in 120 matches at an average of just under 25.

Marizanne Kapp | 149 wickets

Since making her debut in 2009, Marizanne Kapp has been an integral figure in the South African setup and is making her presence felt in the ongoing ICC World Cup. Kapp picked up 149 wickets until now and is the second-highest wicket-taker in ODI cricket for South Africa.

Lisa Sthalekar | 146 wickets

One of the great all-rounders in the women’s game, Lisa Sthalekar was often contributing crucial runs with the bat, and picking up wickets at regular intervals as well. She finished with 146 wickets in 125 matches and retired from the game after Australia won the 2013 Women’s ICC World Cup.

FAQs

Who is the highest wicket-taker in ODI for India?

Anil Kumble (337 wickets) and Jhulan Goswami (250 wickets) picked up the most wickets for India in men’s and women’s ODIs respectively.

Which bowler is fastest to 500 wickets in ODI?

Muttiah Muralitharan is the fastest to 500 wickets in the ODI format.

Who is the highest wicket-taker in ODI 2021?

Dushmanta Chameera has picked the most wickets in ODIs in 2021 (20 wickets in 14 matches).

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