Most wickets in Asia Cup: Bowlers who top the wickets chart

Most wickets in Asia Cup, one of the most prestigious cricket tournaments in the sport, is a collection of some of the best bowlers in the history of the sport itself.

The first edition of the Asia Cup was played between India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan back in 1984. In 1988, Bangladesh cricket team played for the first time in the Asia Cup while UAE and Hong Kong played for the first time in 2004 edition of the competition.

Afghanistan is one team that has been regularly added to the Asia Cup since 2014. A qualifier tournament also takes place now among lower-ranked Asian teams while India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Bangladesh automatically. Sixth team in the Asia Cup is finalised through a qualifier.

Most wickets in Asia Cup 2023
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Moreover, the Asia Cup is played in two formats – T20I and ODI – as per the requirements depending on the format of the World Cup. After the 2015 ODI World Cup, it was decided that the tournament will be played in ODI and T20I format on a rotational basis. Accordingly, ahead of the T20 World Cup, the 2016 edition was played in the shortest format.

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The next Asia Cup edition was played in 2018 in the ODI format as the 50-over World Cup was set to be played in 2019. Accordingly, the 2022 Asia Cup took place in the T20 format ahead of the T20 World Cup in Australia.

The 2023 edition of the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) organised tournament is now scheduled from August 31 to September 17 this year ahead of the ODI World Cup in India. Nepal have qualified to play in the tournament for the first time even as the competition will take place in hybrid model with four matches in Pakistan and nine matches in Sri Lanka.

Most wickets in Asia Cup T20Is

Bhuvneshwar Kumar

India pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar has always been the new-ball nemesis for the opposition batters. More often than not, in his prime, he struck with the new ball making it tough for the opponents to get going right from the word go. He is the top bowler when it comes to top wickets in Asia Cup. He has picked up 13 wickets in six matches at an average of 9.46 and an economy 5.34.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar also played nine matches in the ODI Asia Cup and accounted for nine wickets in the tournament at an average of 38.11 and an economy of 4.43 with the best figures of 3/15. Overall, in his T20I career, the pacer from Meerut played 87 matches and picked up 90 wickets at an average of 23.10 and at an economy of 6.96 at a strike-rate of 19.9. He also picked up three four-wicket hauls and two five-wicket hauls in his illustrious career. 

As far as his ODI career is concerned, Bhuvi has featured in 121 matches so far and picked up 141 wickets with the best figures of 5/42. He averaged 35.11 with the ball and conceded runs only at an economy of 5.08 while his strike-rate in the ODI format read 41.4. 

Amjad Javed

Amjad Javed from UAE didn’t many chances to shine against the top teams. But whenever he played in the T20 format of the tournament, he made sure to make it to the list of bowlers with most wickets in Asia Cup. He accounted for 12 scalps in seven matches at an average of 14.08 and an economy of 7.34 and is at the second position when it comes to picking top wickets in Asia Cup.

Amjad Javed was always one of the best bowlers for UAE and he featured in 22 T20I matches in his career picking up 33 wickets at an impeccable average of 16.96 and an economy of 7.53. His strike-rate of 13.5 is also decent. When it comes to ODIs, Javed wasn’t as threatening as he accounted for only nine wickets and averaged 67.55 at an economy of 5.90.

Al Amin Hossain

Al Amin Hossain of Bangladesh is one of the fastest bowlers from the country who was at the top of his mark when Asia Cup in T20I format was played. In the two edition that took place in the shortest format of the sport, Hossain picked up 11 wickets in only five matches much to the delight of Bangladesh fans. His economy of 7.96 is brilliant given that he bowled tough overs most of the times and an average of 12.18 is also one of the best.

Al Amin Hossain has surprsingly gone down the pecking order for Bangladesh despite doing well. He last played a white-ball game for his country back in March 2020. He has so far featured in 31 T20I matches picking up 43 wickets which is a stunning record. When it comes to the ODIs, he has 22 wickets to show for in 15 matches.

The 30-year-old will be keen on adding more to his tally if he gets a chance to make a comeback for Bangladesh.

Mohammad Naveed

Mohammad Naveed is another fast bowler from UAE who has made his appearance in the list of top wickets in Asia Cup. He featured in 7 matches in the Asia Cup T20I matches and ended up picking 11 wickets at an impeccable average of 13.18. He also conceded runs at an economy of 5.24 that makes him the best bowler from UAE as well.

Like Amjad Javed, Naveed was one such bowler who always stepped up for UAE throughout his international career. The man played 39 ODIs ans 31 T20Is overall for his country. He accounted for 53 and 37 wickets respectively in the two formats and his economy was decent in both white-ball formats of the sport. Naveed is also one of the few bowlers of UAE to pick up a five-wicket haul in the One-Day International format.

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Rashid Khan

No list, especially in T20 cricket, is complete without the spin magician from Afghanistan Rashid Khan. The leg-spinner featured in 8 matches for his country in the Asia Cup when it was played in T20I format. Rashid managed to pick 11 wickets in those matches leaving the naysayers stunned with his variations. His average of 18.36 and economy of 6.51 is also decent given that he bowled some tough overs for Afghanistan.

Rashid Khan Asia Cup
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Rashid Khan is destined to become a great bowler to have ever graced the game with his presence. There is no doubt that he is a T20 giant and his stats at the international level also prove it. At the age of 24, Rashid has already featured in 87 ODIs and picked up 163 wickets at an average of 18.68 and an economy of 4.17. He has also picked up a mammoth 6 four-wicket and 4 five-wicket hauls in his career with the best figures of 7/18.

In the shortest format of the sport, Rashid played 80 matches so far picking 129 wickets with the best figures of 5/3. He boasts of 4 four-wicket hauls and two five-wicket hauls and has picked those scalps at an average of 14.58 and an economy of 6.18 along with a strike-rate of 14.1. Rashid seems certain to end as one of the greatest ever bowlers with age on his side and a lot of cricket still left in him.

Other bowlers in top 10

Hardik Pandya, Wanindu Hasaranga, Shadab Khan, Haris Rauf and Mohammad Nawaz are the other bowlers in the top 10 list of most wickets in Asia Cup T20I format. Hardik Pandya is the second Indian in this list with 11 wickets in 8 matches at an average of 18.8 and an economy of 7.01.

Wanindu Hasaranga is the first Sri Lanka bowler in this list and he is likely to climb the ladder in the upcoming years to come thanks to his wicket-taking ability. He has so far picked up nine wickets in six matches at an average of 18.88 and an economy of 7.39. 

Best bowlers in Asia Cup
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The top 10 list ends with the trio of Pakistan bowlers – Shadab Khan, Haris Rauf and Mohammad Nawaz. All the bowlers have picked up 8 wickets each with leg-spinner Shadab taking least number of matches. All of them are active players in international cricket and are expected to play for Pakistan for a few more years.

The list of top wickets in Asia Cup is likely to change in the upcoming years as a lot of T20 cricket is set to be played. Hence, we might see more dominance from these three Pakistan bowlers and young cricketers from other countries as well.

Player Country Matches Wickets Average Economy
Bhuvneshwar Kumar India 6 13 9.46 5.34
Amjad Javed UAE 7 12 14.08 7.34
Al Amin Hossain Bangladesh 5 11 12.18 7.96
Mohammad Naveed UAE 7 11 13.18 5.24
Rashid Khan Afghanistan 8 11 18.36 6.51
Hardik Pandya India 8 11 18.80 7.01
Wanindu Hasaranga Sri Lanka 6 9 18.88 7.39
Shadab Khan Pakistan 5 8 14.12 6.05
Haris Rauf Pakistan 6 8 19.12 7.65
Mohammad Nawaz Pakistan 8 8 21.75 7.05

Most wickets in Asia Cup ODIs

Muttiah Muralitharan

Sri Lanka’s legendary cricketer Muttiah Muralitharan is at the top of the list when it comes to picking most wickets in Asia Cup. One of the best bowlers in Asia Cup, Muralitharan won matches single-handedly for Sri Lanka across all formats of the game during his playing time. Asia Cup was no different as he sits at the top among the best bowlers in Asia Cup.

Muralitharan played 24 ODI matches in the Asia Cup from 1995 to 2010 and ended up picking a massive 30 wickets. His average of 28.83 and economy of 3.75 is certainly one of the best. He also picked up a four-wicket haul and five-wicket haul and played a crucial role in helping Sri Lanka win most of the Asia Cup titles.

Murali had an amazing international career playing 133 Tests, 350 ODIs and 12 T20Is. While he picked a mammoth 800 wickets in Tests, the off-spinner sent back 534 batters in the 50-over format. He didn’t play many T20Is ending up with only 13 scalps to his name. Murali’s 534 ODI wickets are the testament to his dominance not only in the Asia Cup but also in his entire career. 

Top wickets in Asia Cup
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Lasith Malinga

Lasith Malinga was always known for his slinging action that kept the batters on the tenterhooks. His ability to nail pinpoint yorkers when it mattered the most in white-ball cricket made Malinga one of the best to have every played the game. Even in the battle of the Asian team, he picked up top wickets in Asia Cup leaving the opposition batters stunned on numerous occasions.

Lasith Malinga played Asia Cup tournament in the ODI format from 2004 to 2018 and featured in 14 One-Day Internationals for the team from island nation. He picked up 29 wickets at an average of 20.55 and an economy of 4.65 that makes him the second best bowler in Asia Cup history when it comes to the ODI format.

Lasith Malinga slingy action meant it was always tough for him to play for a long time in Test cricket. He featured in only 30 red-ball matches at the international level picking up 101 wickets. But when it came to the One-Day Internationals, the man was an absolute champion. He featured in 226 matches in the format picking up 338 wickets with 11 four-wicket and 8 five-wicket hauls to his name. 

Malinga also featured in 84 T20 International matches for Sri Lanka accounting for 107 scalps. He also led his country in the shortest format before hanging his boots from international cricket.

Ajantha Mendis

Sri Lanka’s bowlers’ dominance in the ODI Asia Cup continues with mystery spinner Ajantha Mendis making his appearance at the third position in the list of most wickets in Asia Cup. Interestingly, he played only during the period of 2008 to 2014 and he is already at the third place. If he had featured in one more edition of Asia Cup, the spin bowler might have climbed to the top of the list.

Mendis played only in 8 matches in the ODI Asia Cup and boasts of the best average and economy in the history of the tournament. He picked up a mammoth 26 wickets in just 8 matches at an average of 10.42 and a brilliant economy of 3.98. Mendis was not lucky to play more matches when it came to representing Sri Lanka unless he might have scaled even more records not only in his international career but also in the Asia Cup.

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Ajantha Mendis didn’t have a great international career after the way he started his career. Mendis ended up playing only 19 Tests, 87 ODIs and 39 T20 Internationals picking up 70, 152 and 66 wickets respectively. Mendis was superb in all formats but unfortunately his mystery faded away with time and slowly, he also went down the reckoning in Sri Lanka Cricket.

Nevertheless, Mendis picked up five four-wicket and 4 five-wicket hauls in Test cricket and when it came to ODIs, he picked 7 four-wicket and 3 five-wicket hauls. In T20I cricket too, he was at times unplayable accounting for 3 four-wicket hauls and 2 fifers in his career that lasted for close to seven years.

Saeed Ajmal

Saeed Ajmal’s bowling action was controversial and was under the radar most of the times from the ICC. He was also banned from bowling in 2014 when he was possibly at the peak of his career. However, prior to that, Ajmal had already starred in the Asia Cup for Pakistan making it to the list of best bowlers in Asia Cup.

During the six-year period, the spin bowler from Pakistan featured in 12 matches in the ODI Asia Cup and accounted for 25 wickets in the tournament. He picked up these many wickets at an average of 19.39 and an economy of 4.21. He was also instrumental in Pakistan beating India in the 2014 edition of the tournament.

As far as his career is concerned, Saeed Ajmal overall played 35 Tests, 113 ODIs and 64 T20 Internationals. He picked 178, 184 and 85 wickets in the three formats respectively to become one of the best spinners to have ever played for Pakistan. He accounted for a total of 12 five-wicket hauls in his career and despite controversy around his action all the time, the spin bowler did well to pick almost 450 wickets at the international level.

Chaminda Vaas

Most wickets in Asia Cup
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Sri Lanka’s legendary left-arm pace bowler Chaminda Vaas was at the top of his mark all the time during his illustrious career. Though his pace was not much, Vaas, all the time, kept the batters in check making the run-scoring tough even in the powerplay overs when there were not many fielders manning the boundary line.

Vaas played the Asia Cup ODI format from 1995 to 2008 and featured in 19 matches and picked up 23 wickets including that of some of the best in the format. The average of 27.78 and an economy of 4.19 is also brilliant given the fact that he bowled difficult overs most of the times up front and at the death as well.

Chaminda Vaas can easily be considered the best fast bowler to play for Sri Lanka. He played 111 Tests, 322 ODIs and 6 T20Is in his career accounting 355, 400 and 6 wickets respectively in the three formats. His bowling career is studded with a plethora of four-wicket and five-wicket hauls and was also one of the most economical bowler in the world thanks to his impeccable accuracy.

Other bowlers in top 10

The other bowlers in the top 10 list of most wickets in Asia Cup are Irfan Pathan, Sanath Jayasuriya, Abdur Razzak, Ravindra Jadeja and Shakib Al Hasan. Some of them have been the best bowlers in Asia Cup over the years. Irfan Pathan and Ravindra Jadeja are at the sixth and ninth places in the list with 22 and 19 wickets respectively. Sanath Jayasuriya just extends the Sri Lanka dominance with the ball claiming the seventh position with 22 wickets from 25 matches he played in the ODI Asia Cup.

Only two Bangladesh players are present in the top 10 list of most wickets in Asia Cup and they are Abdur Razzak and Shakib Al Hasan. Both are left-arm spinners and legends of Bangladesh cricket and they accounted for 22 and 19 wickets respectively. Razzak is no more playing international cricket while Shakib has a chance to go past him to become the top wicket-taker from Bangladesh in the Asia Cup ODI history.

Player Country Matches Wickets Average Economy
Muttiah Muralitharan Sri Lanka 24 30 28.83 3.75
Lasith Malinga Sri Lanka 14 29 20.55 4.65
Ajantha Mendis Sri Lanka 8 26 10.42 3.98
Saeed Ajmal Pakistan 12 25 19.39 4.21
Chaminda Vaas Sri Lanka 19 23 27.78 4.19
Irfan Pathan India 12 22 27.50 5.54
Sanath Jayasuriya Sri Lanka 25 22 30.31 4.48
Abdur Razzak Pakistan 18 22 36.18 4.67
Ravindra Jadeja India 14 19 26.57 4.34
Shakib Al Hasan Bangladesh 13 19 32.72 4.87
Shakib Al Hasan Asia Cup
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What to expect from Asia Cup 2023?

The latest edition of Asia Cup is set to happen in August-September this year ahead of the ODI World Cup. The tournament is set to be played in the 50-over format. In the background, a lot of drama has been witnessed with India refusing to travel to Pakistan citing security concerns. Pakistan already have to hosting rights and will continue to stay the designated hosts of the competition.

However, with the hybrid model approved by the Asian Cricket Council, a majority of matches of Asia Cup are set to take place in Sri Lanka.

As far as the expectations from Asia Cup 2023 is concerned, all the teams will be preparing for the upcoming World Cup in India. This will lead to no big player resting for the tournament, which has been the norm, especially for India with the likes of Virat Kohli opting not to play in the tournament on previous occasion.

Thus best players from teams like India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Bangladesh will take part in the tournament with a view of setting up their best XI for the World Cup. Hence, expect some close and thrilling when it comes to Asia Cup 2023.

Even the previous edition of Asia Cup was one of the best with India and Pakistan engaging in thrilling encounters on both occasions. Perhaps, Sri Lanka also managed to beat a strong Indian side in a nail-biting thriller. Afghanistan also played some exciting cricket while also threatening to beat Sri Lanka and Pakistan on occasions.

Moreover, former India captain Virat Kohli also finally broke his century drought smashing his maiden T20I century against Afghanistan in the dead rubber game.

Asia Cup 2023 will resume India’s ODI rivalry against arch-rivals Pakistan as the two teams last met in the 2019 World Cup in England. Pakistan have played and won some close games in recent times against India including their stunning 10-wicket victory over the Men in Blue in 2021 T20 World Cup in Dubai. Hence, they will be hoping to break the hoodoo in the ODI World Cup as well having lost all seven matches in the mega event against India.

So, all the excitement leading up to the Asia Cup makes the tournament an amazing one this time around and the fans will be hoping to witness some riveting action.

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Best bowlers in Asia Cup

The Asian countries like India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh have produced a lot of brilliant bowlers over the years. The legendary cricketers not only performed in the Asia Cup ever since its first edition but also dominated the batters all over the world. While some of the bowlers ended up playing only the ODI format in the Asia Cup, few managed to feature in both formats.

Here we rank top bowlers in the history of Asia Cup who dominated the proceedings and helped their team win the matches and eventually the trophy as well.

Ajantha Mendis

Many will be surprised to see Ajantha Mendis’ name at the top on this list. But the kind of impact he had with the ball in the Asia Cup is unmatched. The man picked up a mammoth 26 wickets in only 8 matches he played in the Asia Cup for Sri Lanka. His best figures of 6/13 also came in the final of the 2008 edition of the tournament against India.

Mendis, in that game, delivered a spell of 6/13 in 8 overs while also bowling a maiden over. Mendis also continued his domination picking up a total of nine wickets which shows his effectiveness throughout the Asia Cup editions ever since he played in it for the first time in 2008. He also picked up two four-wicket and as many five-wicket hauls taking Sri Lanka to numerous memorable wins in the Asia Cup history.

Sri Lanka Asia Cup
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Lasith Malinga

Lasith Malinga has overpowered his teammate Muttiah Muralitharan for this position only because of the number of matches they have played in the Asia Cup. Malinga played only 14 matches in the Asia Cup and accounted for 29 wickets. This is a stunning achievement as it proves he picked at least two wickets in almost every game he played.

Malinga picked up one four-wicket haul and 3 five-wicket hauls in his Asia Cup career and boasts of best figures of 5/34. His strike-rate of 26.51 is also exceptional and it also shows how tough Malinga was to get away when he was at his peak. Sri Lanka managed to win the Asia Cup thrice from 2004 to 2014 in five editions when Malinga and Mendis played together.

Perhaps, till 2008 and 2010, Chaminda Vaas and Muralitharan were also part of the bowling attack. Hence, it is no surprise that Sri Lanka dominated the Asia Cup during those 10 years thanks to their superb bowling line-up.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar

India’s swing master Bhuvneshwar Kumar makes it to the list of top bowlers in Asia Cup only because of his excellence in the T20 form of the tournament. Bhuvi is that kind of a bowler who has the ability to run through the top order of opposition batters with the new ball. That is what he did most of the times while playing for India in this entire career and also in the Asia Cup.

He played two editions of T20 Asia Cup and also helped India win one of those with his bowling. He featured in six matches in the tournament and picked up 13 wickets which is brilliant given that most of the times he bowled two overs upfront and two overs at the death. His best figures read 5/4 and an average of 9.46 with an economy of less than six and a strike-rate of 10.61 makes him the best bowler in the T20 Asia Cup.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar is no more in India’s plans for the 50-over format but when it comes to the shortest format, he is the master and played a huge role in winning India games with his ability with the ball.

Best bowlers in Asia Cup
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Special Mention

Muttiah Muralitharan and Saeed Ajmal need special mention among the best bowlers in Asia Cup thanks to their contribution for their respective teams. Murali was always a dangerous bowler for the opposition and his 30 wickets were an exceptional show from him every time he featured in the Asia Cup. For Ajmal, the man was always there to provide the breakthrough for Pakistan and his 25 wickets in just 12 matches in Asia Cup ODIs make him one of the best bowlers in the history of the tournament. Overall, even though a lot of talented bowlers are coming up the ladder and are likely to dominate the proceedings in near future, these players will always remain in the history books of the top tournament in Asia.


Rohit is an experienced cricket writer based in India