Throughout the decades of ODI history, a number of world-class bowlers have delivered outstanding performances and dominated opposition batting lineups.
This article will count down the bowlers who have taken the most wickets in international cricket across their ODI careers, look at their standout achievements, and rank the top bowlers with the highest career wicket tallies in ODI cricket.
Significance of Most Wickets in International Cricket
The leading ODI wicket-takers like Muralitharan, Akram, Vaas and others hold several important records and milestones:
· Feature the best ODI bowling figures of all time like 8/19 and 7/30
· Fastest to historic wicket tallies (300, 350, 400 etc)
· Helped countries achieve major titles like World Cups through match-winning spells
· Maintained outstanding bowling averages under 25-30 runs while taking 400+ wickets
· Terrorized generations of batters with their speed, swing and spin abilities
· Rank as their country’s leading ODI wicket taker (Sri Lanka, Pakistan, India etc)
Their wicket-taking dominance transformed ODI bowling and enabled teams to achieve unprecedented success.
#9 – Sanath Jayasuriya
Explosive opening batsman Sanath Jayasuriya was also a useful left-arm orthodox spinner.
Initially an underutilized bowling option, Jayasuriya steadily improved to contribute match-winning spells for Sri Lanka.
He captured 323 wickets in 445 ODI matches, often breaking stubborn partnerships during the middle overs. His best ODI figures were 6/29 against England in 2003.
With his aggressive batting and incisive spin bowling, Jayasuriya was instrumental in Sri Lanka’s 1996 World Cup triumph. His 323 scalps secure 8th place among the leading ODI wicket-takers.
#8 – Anil Kumble
Legendary Indian leg-spinner Anil Kumble bamboozled opponents with his well-disguised googlies, accurate lines, and prodigious turn.
Kumble stands as India’s top ODI wicket-taker with 334 victims at an average of 30.89 over 271 matches. His best ODI figures of 6/12 came against West Indies in 1993.
Kumble was the first Indian bowler to take 300 ODI wickets and held the record for fastest to the milestone before Shahid Afridi broke it.
His clever variations and consistency played a central role in many of India’s ODI successes through the 90s and 2000s. Kumble places #5 among leading wicket-takers in ODI history.
#7 – Brett Lee
Rapid Australian pace bowler Brett Lee was one of the fastest and most intimidating bowlers during the early 2000s. Capable of frequently delivering 155-160 kph thunderbolts, Lee blitzed opposition top orders with his pace and swing.
Lee snapped up 380 scalps in 221 ODI matches at an average of 23.36, with best figures of 5/22 against New Zealand in 2005.
During Australia’s golden era, Lee formed a devastating pairing with Glenn McGrath, tearing through batting lineups. Lee also held the record for fastest delivery ever in ODIs, at 161.1 kph against New Zealand in 2005, underscoring his sheer speed.
His 380 wickets make Brett Lee Australia’s 5th highest ODI wicket-taker of all time.
#6 – Shaun Pollock
Crafty medium pacer Shaun Pollock was known for his consistent line, length and nagging accuracy.
This made him exceedingly difficult for batsmen to score off and earn boundaries against. Pollock snared 393 victims at an impressive average of 24.50 over 303 ODIs for South Africa.
His career-best ODI bowling analysis was the remarkable figures of 5/36 against the West Indies in 2001. Pollock chipped in with handy lower order runs too.
Alongside Allan Donald, he was South Africa’s go-to bowler during the late 90s and early 2000s period of Proteas success.
#5 – Shahid Afridi
Known for his big hitting and aggressive batting, Shahid Afridi of Pakistan was also a more than handy leg-spin bowler.
He often provided crucial breakthroughs for Pakistan with his fast leg-breaks, top spinners, and sliders.
Afridi snapped up 395 wickets in 398 ODIs at an average of 34.51, with best figures of 7/12 against West Indies in 2011.
He was the quickest to 350 wickets, taking just 277 matches thanks to his propensity to run through sides.
Afridi’s all-round exploits make him one of the most feared ODI competitors of his era. Do also check Cricket World Cup Winners List
#4 – Chaminda Vaas
Sri Lanka’s premier seamer Chaminda Vaas was one of the most skillful ODI bowlers of his generation with his ability to swing the new ball and contain runs during the middle overs.
Possessing a clever array of slower balls and variations, Vaas picked up 400 wickets in 322 ODIs at a miserly average of 27.53.
His stellar 8/19 against Zimbabwe in 2001 stands as the best ODI bowling performance of all time. Vaas’ stellar opening spells and death bowling mastery propelled Sri Lanka to new heights in the 1990s and 2000s.
Going into retirement in 2009, Vaas became just the second bowler after Wasim Akram to take over 400 ODI wickets.
#3 – Waqar Younis
Legendary Pakistan pace spearhead Waqar Younis is considered the master of reverse swing bowling. At his blistering quickest, he terrified batters with 90+ mph thunderbolts that tailed back sharply into right-handers.
Younis’ lethal yorkers and in-swinging deliveries fetched him 416 wickets in 262 ODIs at a stunning average of 23.84.
Younis’ best ODI spell of 7/36 against England in 2001 remains one of the most dominant fast bowling displays in ODIs.
During Pakistan’s peak in the 1990s, Younis formed a fearsome partnership with Wasim Akram, gaining a reputation as one of the most feared bowlers in limited overs cricket at the time.
#2 – Wasim Akram
Swing maestro Wasim Akram is considered one of the greatest fast bowlers and all-rounders in cricket history. The left-armer possessed the ability to make the ball “talk” by swinging it both ways at high speed.
Akram being the star of taking the most wickets in international cricket demolished opposition batting with his dipping in-swingers, reverse-swing, searing out-swingers and deceptive slower balls.
Across 356 ODIs until 2003, Akram snatched up 502 wickets – the most by a Pakistani – at an excellent average of 23.52. His best ODI figures were the sensational 5/15 against New Zealand in the 1992 World Cup semifinal.
Wasim also cemented his legacy with match-winning performances to deliver Pakistan the 1992 World Cup title.
#1 – Muttiah Muralitharan
Sri Lankan spinning genius Muttiah Muralitharan stands alone at the summit of ODI wicket-takers with a mammoth tally of 534 scalps in 350 matches.
The prodigious off-spinner bamboozled generations of batsmen with his big turning deliveries, deceptive variations, and ability to run through sides.
Muralitharan’s best ODI figures were the scarcely believable 7/30 against India in 2000. He was also the fastest to 350 wickets, achieving the mark in just 199 games owing to his unmatched strike rate.
He’s no doubt the man who’s taken the most wickets in international cricket. Muralitharan played an enormous role in transforming Sri Lanka into a world champion ODI side through the 1990s and 2000s.
His 534 wickets and peerless record cement his legacy as the greatest ODI bowler of all time. Do you know Arjun Tendulkar Bowling Speed
Other Notable ODI Wicket Takers
Beyond the top 10, several other bowlers have impressive career wicket tallies in ODI cricket:
· Glenn McGrath (Australia) – 381 wickets
· James Anderson (England) – 269 wickets
· Zaheer Khan (India) – 282 wickets
· Shoaib Malik (Pakistan) – 253 wickets
· Lasith Malinga (Sri Lanka) – 338 wickets
· Mitchell Starc (Australia) – 185 wickets
The dominance of these bowling greats underscore how taking wickets is critical to ODI success. Although ODI rules and scoring rates have evolved, match-winning bowlers remain invaluable assets.
The longstanding ODI careers of legendary bowlers like Muralitharan, Akram, Vaas, Pollock and others showcased their skillful ability to consistently take wickets.
Their prodigious wicket tallies, strike rates and match-winning performances make them the top wicket-takers in ODI cricket history.