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From Wasim Akram to Mitchell Starc | Most Wickets in World Cup History

image-ljmm9qpnGlenn McGrath is the leading wicket-taker in World Cup history (ICC Twitter)

The Cricket World Cup is the peak of international cricket, a tournament that brings together the finest players from across the globe. While batsmen often hog the limelight with their explosive stroke play and sensational centuries, it is the bowlers who play a crucial role in shaping the outcome of matches.

Their ability to deceive, intimidate, and take wickets at crucial moments is what sets them apart. Over the years, the World Cup has witnessed numerous bowlers who have created a massive impact with their brilliant bowling skills and sharp tactics.

Not only have they been prolific but also consistent across various World Cup editions which has cemented their name in the record books of the marquee tournament.

In this listicle, we take a look at the top five bowlers with the most wickets in World Cup history.

5. Mitchell Starc

Australian speedster, Mitchell Starc, occupies the fifth spot in this list of bowlers with the most wickets in World Cup history with 49 wickets in 18 matches from the 2015 and 2019 World Cups at an average of 14.81 which is the best ever in the competition. Known for his toe-crushing yorkers and ability to swing the ball both ways, Starc has been a force to reckon with in World Cup tournaments. Playing just two World Cups, the southpaw has featured in this list which just goes on to show the impact he has had in the tournament.

image-ljmmbch9Mitchell Starc (ICC Twitter)

His most impactful performance came in the 2019 World Cup, where he claimed a record 27 wickets at a stunning average of 18.59. His 6 for 28 against New Zealand in Match 20 of ICC World Cup 2015 remains his bowling figures in the marquee event. Starc also has the most four-wicket hauls (6) and fifers (3) in World Cup history. 

The dynamic speedster is still at his lethal best and is set to feature for the Aussies in the upcoming ICC World Cup 2023 in India later this year. The 33-year-old has the perfect opportunity to add a few more scalps to his name and if he overtakes others on this list, Australia will have a serious chance at lifting the coveted trophy.

4. Wasim Akram

Wasim Akram, one of the finest pacers the game has seen, is fourth on this list with 55 World Cup wickets in 36 games from 1987 to 2003 at an average of 23.83. Akram, known for his mastery of reverse swing, was a constant threat to batsmen worldwide. The Pakistan veteran has two four wicket-hauls and a solitary fifer to his name.

image-ljmmbpw3Wasim Akram (ICC Twitter)

His spell in the 1992 World Cup final against England, where he took 3 wickets for 49 runs, was instrumental in Pakistan securing their only World Cup to date for which he was also named the ‘Player of the Match’. His delivery to dismiss Alan Lamb in the final is often regarded as one of the finest deliveries in cricket history.

3. Lasith Malinga

With 56 wickets from 29 games in World Cup tournaments between 2007 and 2019, Lasith Malinga secures his place as the third-highest wicket-taker. His precise yorkers and slower deliveries have often been too hot to handle for the batsmen. The right-arm quick has bagged his wickets at an average of 22.87 and has notched two four and one five-wicket hauls respectively.

image-ljmmc85eLasith Malinga (ICC Twitter)

Malinga's 4 for 54 against South Africa in the 2007 World Cup remains one of his best performances, where his spell saw him grabbing four consecutive wickets (only bowler) as South Africa crumbled from a comfortable position and almost lost the match but in the end, they emerged victorious by one wicket. The legendary speedster is also the only bowler in World Cup history to have two hat-tricks to his name (vs South Africa in 2007) & (vs Kenya in 2011).

2. Muttiah Muralitharan

The legendary Muttiah Muralitharan, who has the most wickets in ODI and Test history, stands second in the list with 68 wickets in 40 matches at an average of 19.63 from World Cups spanning between 1996 to 2011. The off-spinner's mysterious spin and unpredictable deliveries often left batsmen clueless.

image-ljmmcow1Muttiah Muralitharan (ICC Twitter)

Murali was instrumental in Sri Lanka's journey to the finals in the 2007 and 2011 World Cups, with the 2007 World Cup seeing him at his peak, claiming 23 wickets in 10 matches at an astonishing average of 15.26. Although the spinner has 4 four wicket-hauls to his name, he failed to pick a fifer and his best figures of 4/19 came against Ireland at the ICC World Cup 2007.

1. Glenn McGrath

At the pinnacle of the list stands former Australian seamer, Glenn McGrath, who remains the leading wicket-taker in the history of the Cricket World Cup. Renowned for his impeccable accuracy, McGrath was a master of line and length, consistently tormenting batsmen with his ability to exploit even the tiniest of errors. With a staggering tally of 71 wickets in 39 matches across four World Cups in 39 matches at an average of 18.19, McGrath's dominance in the prestigious event is unmatched.

image-ljmmd6rqGlenn McGrath (ICC Twitter)

With an economy rate of 3.96, he epitomized the art of disciplined and economical bowling. His ability to consistently break through opposition defenses made him an integral part of Australia's success in the tournament. 

One of the most memorable performances of McGrath's career came in the 2007 edition of the World Cup where he claimed an astonishing 26 wickets in just 11 matches at an average of 13.73, including an incredible spell of 7/15 against Namibia which to date remains best figures for a bowler in a World Cup game.