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Pfeiffer is a specific slang term, a synonym for the more famous five-wicket haul. Its origin is associated with wordplay in English, where the abbreviation for the five-wicket haul, Fifer, reads the same as the surname of the popular actress Michelle Pfeiffer, famous for roles in such films as “Scarface”, “Ladyhawke”, “Dangerous Liaisons”, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, “Stardust” and “Malavita”.

In fact, Pfeiffer refers to five wickets taken by a bowler in one inning. It is considered one of the most obvious indicators of the skill of an attacking player, regardless of its specifics, although, as it is easy to assume, fast bowlers succeed more often than their colleagues who specialize in spin-type innings.

In the entire history of cricket, only nine players have been able to issue Pfeiffer in all three formats (Test, ODI and T20I). These are:

  1. Ajantha Mendis (Sri Lanka) – 4 Pfeiffer in test matches, 3 in ODI and 2 in T20I.
  2. Lasith Malinga (Sri Lanka) – 3 Pfeiffer in Test matches, 8 in ODI and 2 in T20I.
  3. Bhuvneshwar Kumar (India) – 4 Pfeiffer in test matches, 1 in ODI and 1 in T20I.
  4. Kuldeep Yadav (India) – 2 Pfeiffer in test matches, 1 in ODI and 1 in T20I.
  5. Tim Southee (New Zealand) – 12 Pfeiffer in test matches, 3 in ODI and 1 in T20I.
  6. Imran Tahir (South Africa) – 2 Pfeiffer in test matches, 3 in ODI and 2 in T20I.
  7. Shakib Al Hasan (Bangladesh) – 18 Pfeiffer in test matches, 2 in ODI and 1 in T20I.
  8. Umar Gul (Pakistan) – 4 Pfeiffer in test matches, 2 in ODI and 2 in T20I.
  9. Rashid Khan (Afghanistan) – 3 Pfeiffer in test matches, 4 in ODI and 2 in T20I.
Bowler Test Matches ODI T20I
Date of registration of the first Pfeiffer Date of registration of the first Pfeiffer Date of registration of the first Pfeiffer
Tim Southee (New Zealand) March 22, 2008 (match against England) January 22, 2011 (match against Pakistan) December 26, 2010 (match against Pakistan)
Ajantha Mendis (Sri Lanka) February 4, 2014 (match against Bangladesh) July 6, 2008 (match against India) September 18, 2012 (match against Zimbabwe)
Lasith Malinga (Sri Lanka) April 4, 2005 (match against New Zealand) June 15, 2010 (match against Pakistan) October 1, 2012 (match against England)
Bhuvneshwar Kumar (India) July 9, 2014 (match against England) September 3, 2017 (match against Sri Lanka) February 18, 2018 (match against South Africa)
Umar Gul (Pakistan) April 5, 2004 (match against India) September 13, 2003 (match against Bangladesh) June 13, 2009 (match against New Zealand)
Imran Tahir (South Africa) October 23, 2013 (the match against Pakistan) February 27, 2015 (the match against the West Indies) February 17, 2017 (the match against New Zealand)
Kuldip Yadav (India) October 4, 2018 (match against the West Indies) July 12, 2018 (match against England) July 3, 2018 (match against England)
Shakib Al Hasan (Bangladesh) October 17, 2008 (match against New Zealand) November 7, 2015 (match against Zimbabwe) December 20, 2018 (match against West Indies)
Rashid Khan (Afghanistan) March 15, 2019 (match against Ireland) March 17, 2017 (match against Ireland) March 10, 2017 (match against Ireland)

The youngest holder of the Pfeiffer record is Mujeeb Zadran from Afghanistan, who took five wickets in an ODI when he was not yet 16. This happened in 2018, and a season later, 16-year-old Pakistani Naseem Shah repeated this achievement, this time in a test match. Another representative of Afghanistan, Rashid Khan, registered Pfeiffer in T20 when he was 18 years old.

The absolute leader in the number of Pfeiffers in the Test format competitions is Muttiah Muralitharan (Sri Lanka), who updated his personal record 67 times. Pakistani Waqar Younis has taken a total of thirteen Pfeiffer in ODI. As for the T20I competitions, three cricketers hold the palm here at once, who have issued two Five-wicket hauls at different times – Imran Tahir (South Africa), Ajantha Mendis (Sri Lanka) and Umar Gul (Pakistan).

This is interesting: Australian cricketers often use no more neutral Pfeiffer to refer to the Five-wicket haul, but the actress’s name – Michelle (literally Getting a Michelle).

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Nisha Bhavani
Author: Nisha Bhavani Position: Cricket Expert

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