When the One-day internationals were introduced for the first time in 1971, the economy rates of bowlers were going to see an upsurge. While the change did not happen almost instantly, but with time the economy went higher and now we are at a stage where any economy rate below 6 is considered good enough.
However, there have been 18 instances when a bowler bowled his full quota and conceded less than 1 run pers over. Here we look at 5 most economical spells in ODI cricket (minimum 10 overs bowled in the innings):
#5 Ray Price vs Ireland (0.70)
Former Zimbabwe spinner Ray Price holds the record of bowling the fifth most economical spell in ODI cricket in a completed quota. Price achieved the feat in 2008 against Ireland at Nairobi. Batting first, Zimbabwe set a target of 304 for the Irish. Price, who came in to bowl second change, was extremely difficult to get away with for the Irish batsmen.
In his quota of 10 overs, Price bowled as many as 5 maidens while conceding just 7 runs. Zimbabwe won by a huge margin of 156 runs. Though he did not pick a wicket, Price’s spell went down as the fifth most economical spell in the history of ODI cricket, which is highly unlikely to be broken.
#4 Sunil Joshi (0.60)
The left-arm spinner from Karnataka, Sunil Joshi holds the record of second most economical spell in ODIs among Indians. South Africa were at the receiving end during LG Cup in 1999 held in Kenya.
South Africa won the toss and batted first, but Joshi’s dream spell bundled them out for a paltry 117. Bowling first change, Joshi picked up a fifer and bowled 6 maiden overs, just conceding 6 runs. In a Man of the Match performance, Joshi wa almost unplayable and the South Africans found themselves at the wrong end of a spin trap.
#3 Curtly Ambrose (0.50)
One of the fiercest West Indies fast bowler in the 90s, Curtly Ambrose used to be almost unplayable when on song. Ambrose, while playing against Sri Lanka at Sharjah in 1999, bowled a spell which continues to be the joint second-best economical spell in ODI cricket.
Opting to bat first, Sri Lanka never quite got the momentum. Opening the bowling with McLean, Ambrose choked Atapattu and Jayasuriya, before getting the important wicket of the dangerous Jayasuriya. In what turned out to be the joint second most economical spell in ODI history, Ambrose bowled as many as 5 maiden overs, conceding 5 runs and picked 1 wicket.
#2 Bishen Singh Bedi (0.50)
A key member of India’s famous spin quartet in the 70s, Bishen Singh Bedi holds the record of the join-most maiden overs in ODI cricket (8), although he achieved the feat in a 60-over game. Te left-arm spinner in 1975 against East Africa recorded the figures of 10-08-06-01.
Opting to bat first, East Africa were hampered by early wickets by Madan Lal and Abid Ali. They could not recover from that as Bedi bowled one of the most economical overs ever conceding just 6 runs in 12 overs and also picked a wicket. East Africa got bowled out for just 120 as India chased down the target without any loss of wicket.
#1 Phil Simmons (0.30)
Philip Simmons from West Indies holds the record of the most economical spell in ODI cricket in a completed quota. He achieved the feat against Pakistan in 1992 at Sydney during the Benson and Hedges World Series.
West Indies batted first after winning the toss and put up 214 on the board. In response, Pakistan were up against an unplayable Simmons, who ran through the Pakistani line-up, conceding almost nothing. Opening the bowling, Simmons picked 4 of the first wickets to fall, to leave Pakistan at 14/5. He bowled 8 maiden overs (the most in a 50-over game) and conceded just 3 runs, which goes down as the most economical spell in ODI cricket ever.