ESPNcricinfo Awards 2011 ODI bowling nominees: A six-for, and a Shoaib impersonator
6 for 31 vs Sri Lanka
first ODI, Pallekele
Johnson may be having his problems in Test cricket, but in ODIs his form was beyond reproach. In August, he produced the fourth-best figures in Australia's one-day history to set his team on the path to a seven-wicket victory over Sri Lanka. It was taken for granted that spin would be the dominant force - so much so that Johnson was only the sixth bowler Michael Clarke turned to after losing the toss. Johnson struck with his third delivery, and ran through the middle order to finish with 6 for 31 - figures surpassed for Australia only by Glenn McGrath, Andy Bichel and Gary Gilmour.
5 for 35 vs Sri Lanka
fourth ODI, Sharjah
Sharjah's die-hard cricket tragics were treated to five unforgettable editions of Afridi's trademark arms-aloft celebration, as he single-handedly pipped Sri Lanka in a dramatic finish. Chasing 201 to level the series, Sri Lanka were on course when Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara reduced the equation to 46 needed off 74 balls. Afridi was, however, reading from a script no one else had access to. He derailed the lower order with a mix of legbreaks, googlies and fastish offspinners, and Sri Lanka lost their last seven wickets for just 19 runs, and with them, the series. And all this after a 65-ball 75 on a track his team-mates struggled to score on.
5 for 33 vs Pakistan
first ODI, Wellington
On a drop-in pitch that was expected to have plenty of runs in it, Pakistan's batsmen faced an examination of their techniques during an extravagant display of swing and seam bowling from Southee. They were beaten numerous times on both edges, and five eventually succumbed to him. Once he found his line and length, Southee swung the ball into off and seamed it away. The one that cut back amid the outswingers added to the confusion. His first spell was 6-0-16-3, accounting for Mohammad Hafeez, Kamran Akmal and Asad Shafiq. In his second spell he got the crucial wicket of Shahid Afridi, before adding the one of Misbah-ul-Haq to end the innings and complete his five-for.
5 for 46 vs India
World Cup semi-final, Mohali
The India-Pakistan semi-final was so big a match that some wondered whether the final would be an anti-climax after the frenzied build-up to the clash in Mohali. Wahab spent three sleepless nights before the match, planning how to bowl to each of the Indian batsmen, a strategy that paid off: he took his maiden five-for. There was added pressure on him since he was keeping out Shoaib Akhtar, but he delivered. The pick of the wickets was the dipping, swerving full toss to dismiss Yuvraj Singh first ball - a delivery Shoaib would have been proud of. It led to a pumped-up airplane celebration, made famous by… none other than Shoaib, of course.
5 for 48 vs India
World Cup, Bangalore
In a game with an aggregate of 676 runs, Bresnan's feat of five wickets in ten unrelentingly composed overs was outstanding. He limited a rampant Virender Sehwag to two runs in four balls before luring a dab to the keeper, and of the 60 deliveries he bowled in the innings, a mere two - both to Sachin Tendulkar - resulted in shots for which the bowler could be deemed culpable. Bresnan also inspired with a brilliant late spell where he did both, hit the deck and find the blockhole. India lost their last seven wickets for 33, and a possible 370 became 338.
5 for 50 vs India
World Cup, Nagpur
It's not often that Steyn has figures that read 7-0-46-0. He did, though, when India stampeded to 268 for 2 in 40 overs. In the remaining overs, though, Steyn gave another demonstration of why he's the world's leading bowler. He struck twice in the 41st over, removing Gautam Gambhir and Yusuf Pathan, and then, after the game had spiralled out of India's control in a few minutes, Steyn went on clean up the tail and to complete his five-for, figures scarcely believable when he had been leaking runs with the new ball.
4 for 15 vs South Africa
World Cup, Chennai
A 63-run opening stand had South Africa sauntering towards victory after England had posted a meek 171. However, Broad scripted a stunning fightback to help his side win by six runs in on a tough pitch in Chennai. He prompted South Africa's first collapse by getting the vital wickets of Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis. And then returned to finish the job, holding his nerve even as Dale Steyn threatened to conjure a comeback of his own. Broad trapped Steyn lbw with the first ball of a new spell when the target was 8; three balls later, he dismissed Morne Morkel to wrap up the game.
4 for 29 vs South Africa
second ODI, Johannesburg
With a well-set opener, the target 39 away and six wickets in hand, surely victory is a certainty. It didn't work that way in Johannesburg, as Munaf bowled a decisive spell in which he dislodged top scorer Graeme Smith to trigger a panic-filled collapse. Munaf returned to finish the job in the 43rd over, when the game was still South Africa's - four runs to get with two wickets to go. What clinched the game for India were two short-of-length deliveries that the tailenders, Morne Morkel and Wayne Parnell, who had batted calmly until then, felt were too good to resist.
4 for 34 vs Sri Lanka
World Cup, Colombo
Anyone who thought Pakistan were not dangerous contenders for the World Cup had their views changed after the team's victory over Sri Lanka in the league phase. One of the architects of the win was Afridi, who knocked over the chase with moments of magic. He first removed Tillakaratne Dilshan with a skidding delivery, then sucked Thilan Samaraweera out of his crease with a loopy, dipping legbreak that had him stumped. He backed that up with the wickets of Kumar Sangakkara and Angelo Mathews to hasten Sri Lanka's defeat at home.
5 for 28 vs Australia
third ODI, Hambantota
Sri Lanka were 0-2 down in the series, but a better batting performance in the third game gave Malinga something to defend. He began the demolition by drawing an edge from Shane Watson to slip, before denying Michael Clarke his third half-century in a row, getting him to chip to mid-on. His third victim was Michael Hussey, who square-drove to point on 63. Once Malinga's fast, accurate yorkers rattled the stumps of Xavier Doherty and Doug Bollinger, there was no doubt about the outcome.
Siddarth Ravindran is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo