Trent Boult in action © Getty Images
Trent Boult in action © Getty Images

With the evolving game, new rules and equipment coming into play a bowler’s life has become arduous. Yet there is breed of classy bowlers who prove their weight in gold with their immaculate bowling. Left-arm pace bowlers have always been a rare find and proved out to be effective in any form of the game. From Wasim Akram to Chaminda Vaas all have tasted enormous success with the ball in hand. Suraj Choudhari looks into the stats and analyzes the present class of left-arm quicks only to pick top five from the 21st century. READ MORE: Mitchell Johnson a nightmare during net practice: Ricky Ponting

Mitchell Starc: The tall lanky Australian pace spearhead has been a sensation to watch since his inclusion into the national side. Initially, he was primarily observed as a white ball bowler but proved his harshest critics wrong when he managed to taste success with the red ball. He stunned the world with his ability to bowl deadly inswinging Yorkers on a consistent basis. He makes the full advantage of his height and has  his basics dead right. Starc was instrumental behind Australia’s successful campaign in the 2015 World Cup where he was the joint highest wicket-taker along with Trent Boult. The shorter format specialist is everyone’s first choice in a fantasy team and has featured in 24 Tests for Australia chipping 88 wickets at an effective average of 31.35. His average in Tests doesn’t do full justice to his ability and effort just yet, but it is making rapid improvement.

Trent Boult: The baby faced looking Kiwi pacer has been one of the pillars of strength and one of the most important reasons behind New Zealand’s successful run in contemporary cricket. Boult is widely recognised for his ability to get the new ball into the right-hander as well as away from him on docile surfaces too. He has jolted the best of batsmen with his decent pace and movement early on in the innings. His forte is his control and when on song Boult possesses the ability to rip through any batting line up.  Boult has played 34 Tests for New Zealand in which he has 129 scalps to his name. His average of 28.86 makes him one of the best left-arm pacers in contemporary cricket. Boult had 22 wickets in his basket in the 2015 World Cup and was the joint highest wicket-taker along with Starc. READ: Top 5 contemporary all-rounder’s: Glenn Maxwell, James Faulkner, Ravindra Jadeja and others

Zaheer Khan: India’s most dependable and spine of the Indian pace attack Zaheer Khan has led the the whole team with unmatched confidence. He engineered India’s victory in the 2011 World Cup at home and was the joint highest wicket-taker with 21 wickets to his name. The master of reverse swing has been the reason behind several batsmen’s nightmare. He has troubled left-handers the most with former South African skipper Grame Smith being his bunny. Zaheer produced life from a lifeless pitch and mastered the art of exploiting the conditions. His guile was what stood him out from other bowlers; he also developed canny variations which proved out to be much efficient in the shorter formats. His 311 wickets from 92 Tests is a testament to his consistency in whites. Though retired, Zaheer will always be remembered as one of the best bowlers to have played in the 21st century.

Mitchell Johnson: Mitchell Johnson’s rise as a bowler has been irresistible. When the heavily built Johnson puts in the long strides it’s a challenge to overcome for any genius with the bat at the crease. Johnson can generate that extra bit of bounce from the surface with the help of his strong, muscular shoulders. He took the cricket fraternity by a storm when he demolished the English line-up in the 2013-14 Ashes Down Under with his intimidating speed, frightening bounce and subtle swing. The damage he inflicted was not repairable as his tally of 37 in the entire series is the most by a left-arm pacer in the single Ashes. In Test cricket he is the highest wicket-taker among all the left-arm pacers from the 21st century (as Wasim Akram and Chaminda Vaas made their debut before 2000). Johnson claimed 80 wickets in fourth innings, which is the second best for any fast bowler.

Nathan Bracken: A rare class of bowler who can swing the ball both the ways in the air as well as after pitching on the turf. Bracken was delightful to watch, though he didn’t succeed in Test cricket but established himself as a fantastic limited overs bowler. His strength was not speed but great control and swing. He shot to limelight when he became the ranked one ODI bowler in 2008 for his consistent performances. A knee injury deprived Bracken from achieving newer heights. In 116 ODIs, Bracken chipped 174 wickets at 24.36.

Note: Wasim Akram and Chaminda Vaas could have easily made it to this list but the above write up includes only those bowlers who made their debut after 2000.

(Suraj Choudhari is a reporter with Criclife and CricketCountry. He is an avid follower of the game, and plays the sport at club level. He has a radical understanding about the subtle nuances and intricacies of cricket, and tries to express it through paper and pen.)