The inaugural edition of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup was played in 2007. The T20 format since has been dominated by batters, however, bowlers have been paramount to the success of the teams, especially in this tournament. 

The all-attacking nature of T20s has enabled the spinners to capitalise on the batters’ mistakes. The pacers have also adapted to the requirements of the format.

Shakib Al Hasan holds the record for the most wickets in the T20 World Cup. He has featured in five editions of the tournament. The Bangladesh all-rounder has scalped 41 wickets in 31 matches for his team. 

Shakib’s best performance with the ball was in 2021, with 11 wickets in six matches. His best spell also came in the 2021 edition when he dismantled the Papua New Guinea batting lineup by picking four wickets after conceding only nine runs.

The Pakistan legend, Shahid Afridi is second on the list with 39 wickets in 34 matches in the tournament. Afridi was an integral part of the Pakistan team that finished runners-up in the 2007 edition, picking 12 wickets in seven games. 

Two years later, Afridi picked up 11 wickets as Pakistan won the T20 World Cup title. His best bowling performance in this tournament was also in 2009, when his spell of 4/11 proved to be Netherlands’ undoing at Lord’s.

Lasith Malinga is the top-ranked pacer in this list as the Sri Lankan T20 legend took 38 wickets in 31 matches in the T20 World Cup. The slinging action, arrowed yorkers and cheeky variations troubled batters for five editions and were particularly effective in Sri Lanka’s surge to the title in 2014. 

With 12 wickets in seven matches, 2009 was Malinga’s most productive campaign. The Sri Lankan pacer rushed through the English batting with his five-for in 2012, which ended up being his best individual performance in the tournament.

Saeed Ajmal flourished for Pakistan in this tournament between 2009 and 2014. The spinner featured heavily in the Men in Green’s success in the 2009 edition in England, taking 12 wickets in seven matches to finish as the joint second-highest wicket-taker. Ajmal finished with 36 wickets in 23 games in the T20 World Cup.

Ajantha Mendis had the ability to bamboozle the batters with his unique bowling style. The Sri Lankan spinner scalped 15 wickets in the 2012 T20 World Cup, a record for the most wickets in a single edition of the tournament back then.

The record for the most wickets at a single edition of the T20 World Cup belongs to Wanindu Hasaranga. The Sri Lankan all-rounder took 16 wickets in eight matches in the 2021 edition at a miserly economy rate of 5.20. Hasaranga’s best spell of the tournament was against the Netherlands, picking three wickets while conceding only nine runs.

Ravichandran Ashwin is currently the top-ranked Indian bowler on this list, 10th overall. Ashwin has taken 26 wickets in 18 matches at the T20 World Cup and the bowling all-rounder is likely to improve his tally in the 2022 edition in Australia. Ravindra Jadeja, who is currently 18th on the list with 24 wickets, is unlikely to feature in this year’s tournament.    

Most wickets in ICC Men’s T20 World Cup

Player

Country

Matches

Wickets

Best spell

Shakib Al Hasan

Bangladesh

31

41

4/9

Shahid Afridi

Pakistan

34

39

4/11

Lasith Malinga

Sri Lanka

31

38

5/31

Saeed Ajmal

Pakistan

23

36

4/19

Ajantha Mendis

Sri Lanka

21

35

6/8

Umar Gul

Pakistan

24

35

5/6

Dale Steyn

South Africa

23

30

4/17

Stuart Broad

England

26

30

3/17

Dwayne Bravo

West Indies

34

27

4/38

Ravichandran Ashwin

India

18

26

4/11