Shoaib Akhtar‘s 4-11 against Delhi Daredevils in the inaugural season of the IPL finds the top spot in Wisden’s T20 spells of the 2000s, as picked by CricViz analyst Freddie Wilde.

Shoaib Akhtar 4-11

Kolkata Knight Riders v Delhi Daredevils, IPL 2008
Eden Gardens, Kolkata
May 13, 2008

When Kolkata Knight Riders were restricted to just 133 by the Delhi Daredevils their hopes of a top-four finish and qualification for the semi finals of the inaugural IPL season were in serious danger. The only way KKR were going to stand any chance of defending their total was by taking a cluster of early wickets. The problem was Delhi’s batting order saw Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag paired at the top, above AB de Villiers at three, Manoj Tiwary at four, Shikhar Dhawan at five and Tillakaratne Dilshan at six.

Just as Tanvir left an indelible mark on the 2008 IPL with his superb new ball bowling, so too did Shoaib Akhtar – Pakistan’s fastest and most ferocious bowler. Shoaib’s pace, fire and hostility cared little for the reputations of Delhi’s awesome top order.

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Second ball of the innings Sehwag was gone, caught behind – beaten by speed and swing. Next was Gambhir – cutting straight to backward point in the Rawalpindi Express’ second over. Then, in Shoaib’s third, came the big fish: de Villiers, rushed on the pull by pace and bounce. The very next ball Tiwary was gone: full, straight and far too fast he was stuck on the crease and pinned lbw. In 15 balls Shoaib had taken 4 for 7 and transformed KKR from long shots to favourites. Kolkata went on to win the match by 23 runs.

In almost every respect the IPL has got bigger and better since 2008 but this is arguably one of the league’s most special moments, particularly so with there no longer being any Pakistani presence in the league. 60,000 Indians were feverishly behind one of Pakistan’s greatest fast bowlers, urging him on as he removed India’s current opening pair and tore through Delhi’s top order.