Top 5 Bowlers with Most Five-wicket Hauls in Test Cricket

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Ravichandran Ashwin better Anil Kumble’s feat with his 35th Test fifer

By picking up a five-wicket haul in the recently concluded fourth Test against England, which is being played in Ranchi, Ravichandran Ashwin not only equalled but bettered the feat of another Indian bowling great, Anil Kumble.

Notably, it was Ashwin’s 35th Test five-wicket haul, which saw him equal the tally of former Indian head coach Kumble. However, while Kumble had 35 Test fifers in 132 matches, Ashwin has achieved the feat in only 99 appearances.

Here, we will look at the top five bowlers with the most five-wicket hauls in Test cricket:

#5 Anil Kumble (35)

Although Ashwin might have overtaken Kumble on this list based on the number of matches, the man from Karnataka was the first Indian to get over 30 five-wicket hauls in Test cricket. India’s most successful Test bowler with 619 wickets in 132 appearances, Kumble has 35 Test five-wicket hauls to his name.

Kumble’s first five-wicket haul in Test cricket came when he was just a 22-year-old talent, against South Africa in Johannesburg. In the Proteas’ second innings of the match, Kumble picked up six wickets which included the wickets of then South African greats like Jonty Rhodes and Hansie Cronje.

In terms of his best performances with the ball, Kumble achieved a unique feat when he picked up 10 wickets in the fourth innings of a Test against Pakistan, played in Delhi in 1999. Even in the latter stages of his career, Kumble was as effective as ever before as he picked up 8 wickets in an innings against Australia in 2004, that too in Sydney.

In that same year, he picked up seven wickets in an innings against the same opposition in Chennai. His best performance on his home ground was against South Africa in 2000, where he picked up 6 wickets by conceding 143 runs.

#4 Ravichandran Ashwin (35)

The ongoing series against England has been excellent for Ashwin, as he equalled Kumble’s five-wicket hauls tally only days after becoming the second Indian cricketer in the history of the game to pick up more than 500 wickets in Test cricket.

Interestingly, the off-spinner has been continuously making records since his very first day in international cricket, as his first five-wicket haul came on his Test debut, where he picked up 6/47 against West Indies in Delhi.

However, Ashwin does not have a ten-fer or an eight-fer to his name like Kumble. His best bowling performance in red-ball cricket came eight years ago in Indore, where he registered figures of 7/59 against New Zealand. That happens to be one of his six seven-wicket hauls in Test cricket.

Ashwin had also got seven-wicket hauls against Australia in 2012, against South Africa in 2015 and 2019, and against West Indies in 2016 and 2024. The Chennai lad’s best performance at his home ground came in 2021, where he got 6/55 against England. 

#3 Sir Richard Hadlee (36)

Hadlee is the only player on this list who is among the top ten wicket-takers in Test cricket

Sir Richard Hadlee is the only player on this list who is among the five bowlers with the most five-wicket Test hauls, despite not being among the top ten wicket-takers in Test cricket, which shows that he usually had a knack for picking wickets in batches. The right-arm pacer from New Zealand picked 431 wickets in 86 Tests, with 36 five-wicket hauls.

Having made his Test debut in 1973, Hadlee had to wait for a long time before getting his first five-wicket haul, which came in 1976 incidentally against India. In Wellington, he picked up 7 wickets by conceding just 23 runs in India’s second innings, dismissing some of the men in blue’s best batters like Gundappa Viswanath and Mohinder Amarnath.

The Canterbury man’s best performance with the ball came in 1985 against Australia in Brisbane. In the first innings, Hadlee picked up 9 wickets by conceding just 52 runs, with the likes of David Boon and Allan Border being some of the batters he dismissed.

Besides his seven-fer against India, he got another seven-wicket haul against Australia in Christchurch, which came in 1986. Hadlee also had as many as 13 six-wicket hauls to his name during his Test career, eight of which came against England and Australia. One of those was against India, at the Wankhede Stadium in 1988.

#2 Shane Warne (37)

The second name on this list is also the second-highest wicket-taker in the history of Test cricket – the late great Shane Warne. The Australian leg-spinner, who picked up 708 wickets in his Test career of 145 matches, picked up 37 five-wicket hauls in this format of the game.

Born in Victoria, Warne got his maiden Test fifer at his home ground, the Melbourne Cricket Ground, against West Indies in 1992. It came in the fourth innings of the match where Warne picked up 7 wickets by conceding just 52 runs, with Phil Simmons and Carl Hooper being some of his wickets.

Warne’s best spell with the ball came against England at Brisbane in 1994, where he picked up 8 wickets by conceding 71 runs. He also had five seven-wicket hauls to his name – coming against West Indies in 1992, against South Africa in 1994, against Pakistan in 1995 and 2002, and against England in 2001.

Exactly like Hadlee, Warne had picked up 13 six-wicket hauls during his Test career. He was not always at his best against India as only one of those six-wicket hauls came against India. In that 2004 match in Chennai, Warne got 6/125 in India’s first innings, dismissing Virender Sehwag who was looking all set to score a double-century.

#1 Muttiah Muralitharan (67)

Muttiah Muralitharan got 67 Test five-wicket hauls

It is only right that the greatest bowler in the history of Test cricket also gets to top this list. Muttiah Muralitharan, who picked up 800 Test wickets in 133 games, had also accumulated 67 five-wicket hauls during his career, which is a staggering 30 more than his nearest competitor Warne.

Muralitharan got his first Test fifer against South Africa in Moratuwa, in 1993. In the first innings of the Proteas, the off-spinner got five wickets by conceding 104 runs. In a coincidental occurrence, Muralitharan dismissed Rhodes and Cronje in his first Test fifer, exactly like Kumble.

The man from Kandy produced his best performance at his home ground, where he got 9/51 against Zimbabwe in 2002. He got another nine-wicket haul by conceding 65 runs against England in Oval, in 1998.

He got two eight-fers, against India in 2001 and against England in 2006. Besides that, Muralitharan also got six seven-fers – two each against South Africa and England and the other two against Zimbabwe and India respectively.