Ed Hawkins: The top five most underrated T20 bowlers

Amir amore
Mohammad Amir

Our cricket correspondent picks out the wicket-takers who are overlooked by the layers

"Ngidi’s record for winning top bowler is extraordinary. In his 13 internationals he has won five times and shared honours four times. That is a win rate of 38%"

Lungi Ngidi

Ngidi is possibly one of the most underrated bowlers in the world, whatever the format. But it is in Twenty20 where he is most consistent.

Ngidi's record for winning top bowler is extraordinary. In his 13 internationals he has won five times and shared honours four times. That is a win rate of 38%.

Of course, Ngidi is not priced accordingly. With the layers and huge swathes of punters enthral to Kagiso Rabada and Dale Steyn, Ngidi has often gone off as big as 10/3.

Why so big? Well, quite fairly people fear and respect Rabada, a terrific bowler with an elastic action, swerve and bounce. And Steyn is also revered after he finally decided to take the format seriously, recognising it was the only way to extend an injury-hit career.

Injuries have also hampered Ngidi and because he has been in and out of teams, there has been a case of poor memory recall as to how good he is. Few can recall his man of the match display against Sri Lanka back in 2017, for example.

No doubt the odds men will be more wise to his lethality but because of the reputations of Rabada and Steyn, it is highly unlikely they will ever make him skinny enough.

Ngidi has a strike rate in internationals of a wicket every 10.6 balls. How good is that? It is unrivalled in the world (top 15 ICC ranked teams) if your filter is the last three years with 20 wickets or more as a qualification.

Kuldeep Yadav

Kuldeep is third on that strike rate list. He takes a wicket every 11.6 balls and has almost single-handedly raised awareness of the match-winning ability of left-arm spinners in T20.

India, however, have lost faith after a tricky year and a bit. Kuldeep's issue began when he seemed to lose his action in the previous Indian Premier League for Kolkata Knight Riders, who were forced to drop him. His strike rate rocketed to 49.5.

The malaise continued in the 50-over World Cup. Kuldeep, previously crucial to India, struggled for wickets with only six in seven matches. He had been averaging just shy of two wickets per game in the past.

Hopefully, the downtime has allowed Kuldeep to take stock. Likewise India. A return to Twenty20 internationals is likely to benefit all concerned. Particularly punters. Kuldeep has five wins and three ties in 18 and should provide a guaranteed edge with Jasprit Bumrah taking up a big percentage.

Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Hasnain

No country boasts a fast-bowling production line as effective or consistent as Pakistan so it is tough to keep up to date with the latest flashy model. Shaheen Shah Afridi, Usman Shinwari, Hasan Ali, Rumman Raes, Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riaz and Faheem Ashraf are an embarrassment of riches. At one stage or another all have, or still are, the next big thing.

And certainly we could make a case here for Mohammad Amir being underrated in T20s with layers often influenced by his return of wickets in one-day internationals. He has four wins in 15, an impressive win rate of 26%.

It would be remiss, however, not to discuss Mohammad Hasnain. Hasnain is a 20-year-old wild thing capable of extraordinary pace and searing yorkers, as witnessed by anyone who took a slice of the 5/2 that he would finish as Quetta Gladiators' top bowler in this year's Pakistan Super League.

The tyro has only played six Twenty20s but when he returns to the international fold - he is part of Pakistan's touring squad for the summer series against England - he will be capable of deploying new tricks and hard-fought experience to ensure we'll be betting him.

Nathan Coulter-Nile

The top Australia wicket-taker market for an individual innings should be rich with value. But not for the reason you might think.

Left-arm specialist Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins, widely regarded as the best all-format bowler in the world, should be battling it out for our support. Especially as they have been attractively priced at 5/2 and 3/1.

But data is king and these two are paupers in terms of wins. They haven't managed a winner between them in the last three years. Starc has four ties and Cummins three in nine and ten matches respectively.

So who do we follow? Well, if he can ever get a run in the team because of persistent fitness worries, Nathan Coulter-Nile is a gun. He has two wins in 11 and three shared honours. At his healthiest, Coulter-Nile should be a wager at upwards of 7/2.

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