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Lowest Score Defended in T20 International Cricket: Top 5 list

Zimbabwe holds the record of defending the lowest total in T20I cricket against West Indies, who have won the T20 World Cup twice.

Subhayan Dutta
Subhayan Dutta

Last Updated: 2024-07-03

Kaylan Geekie

6 minutes read

Brendan Taylor (L) and Graeme Cremer of Zimbabwe celebrate the wicket of Shimron Hetmyer of The West Indies during The Cricket World Cup Qualifier

T20 cricket has been designed for bowlers to fail; any T20 match is almost always a bowler's nightmare and a batsman’s paradise. And since defending low scores is extremely difficult in this format, the following list of the top five lowest scores defended in T20 international cricket is quite special.  

India’s recent defence of a record-low score of 120 runs against Pakistan in the 2024 T20 World Cup has piqued interest in the lowest scores that have been defended in the shortest format of the game.    

Since the advent of this format in the early 21st century, T20 cricket has evolved manifold with some rare occurrences witnessing teams defending scores as low as 109 runs. This article highlights the top five exceptional bowling performances in T20 Internationals.

Note: In compiling this list, we focused on scenarios where the team batting first either completed their 20 overs or were bowled out before the end of the allotted overs. We excluded rain-shortened games to maintain consistency.

Lowest Score Defended in T20 International Cricket

Lowest Score Defended in T20 International Cricket

DateMatchLowest Score DefendedResultWinners
February 28, 2010Zimbabwe vs West Indies105 RunsWon by 26 RunsZimbabwe
September 25, 2011West Indies vs England113 RunsWon by 25 RunsWest Indies
August 2, 2013South Africa vs Sri Lanka115 RunsWon by 12 RunsSouth Africa
April 23, 2021Zimbabwe vs Pakistan118 RunsWon by 19 RunsZimbabwe
March 21, 2014Sri Lanka vs New Zealand119 RunsWon By 59 RunsSri Lanka
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Zimbabwe defends 105 runs vs West Indies

Zimbabwe holds the record of defending the lowest total in T20I cricket and that, quite impressively, came against the mighty West Indies who have portrayed the art of the T20 format so well that they have the T20 World Cup title twice and are a feared opponent amongst most top nations.

Bowling first, West Indies spinner Sulieman Benn bowled a magnificent spell of 4-2-6-4, while Zimbabwe’s shaky batting got some respite owing to crucial knocks from Hamilton Masakadza (44) and Elton Chigumbura (34).
 

Zimbabwe Vs West Indies live  today match

Image Credits: @asmachannel8 (X Account)

Defending a total of 105 runs, Zimbabwe’s spin pair of Graeme Cremer (3/11) and Greg Lamb (2/14) excelled as West Indies batters faltered to tackle the duo. While Cremer ousted the dangerous Kieron Pollard and Daren Sammy, Lamb managed to get the scalp of the destructive Dwayne Smith in the 16th over.

West Indies ended their innings at a meagre tally of 79/7 as Zimbabwe won by 26 runs. This has been the lowest total defended in T20I cricket history.

West Indies shock England defending 113 runs

The Men in Maroon were without brutal hitters like Chris Gayle and Kieron Pollard in their squad and it was showing in their performance during the two-match series against England in 2011. After registering a below-par score (125 runs) in the first match, West Indies repeated it in the second game as England bowled them out for just 113 runs at the Oval.      
 

Andre Russell sizzles on comeback to help West Indies win the 1st T20I vs England

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However, St Lucian left-arm spinner Garey Mathurin had other plans as he rose to the occasion to produce an exceptional spell of 3/9 in his quota of four overs. England’s top scorer was Ben Stokes, who scored 31 runs to contribute to England’s paltry total of 88 runs while chasing 113 runs.

South Africa sees off Sri Lanka in a low-run chase

Sri Lanka has always had a knack for producing spinners who could come up with match-winning performances. One such player was Sachithra Senanayake, whose exceptional bowling against the mighty South Africans limited them to just 115 runs in 2013 on their home soil.

Senanayake single-handedly destroyed the top order, taking the wickets of Henry Davids, Quinton de Kock, and skipper Faf du Plessis. He was aided by other Lankan bowlers who eventually restricted the visitors to 115/6 by the end of their 20 overs, signalling that turf had very little for the batsmen.
 

ICC T20 Cricket World Cup (New York)

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Despite the bowling-friendly pitch, 116 was the very low target and the Proteas needed something special to defend this score. It was Jean-Paul Duminy, who rose to the occasion and sent the dangerous Tillakaratne Dilshan back to the pavilion in his first over. He followed that up with wickets in his second over with scalps of Angelo Mathews and Jeevan Mendis on consecutive balls.

Duminy was helped by the pace attack of Morne Morkel and Wayne Parnell, who picked two wickets each to stunt Sri Lanka’s chances further. The visitors’ best batsman was Kumar Sangakkara, whose unbeaten 59 was eventually insufficient as Sri Lanka was wrapped up for 103/9.

Zimbabwe slays giants Pakistan in low-scoring thriller 

A star-studded historic side like Pakistan is almost always expected to see off an associate cricket nation like Zimbabwe. But sometimes, the empire strikes back and this was one such occasion on April 23, 2021.
 

Feeling Happy For Pakistan

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After the fire-spitting Pakistani bowlers wrapped up the entire Zimbabwe team for just 118 runs, many expected the visitors to have a cakewalk in the second innings. But, the minnows had other plans and their tight bowling saw Pakistan start slow and accumulate just 44 runs in the first 10 overs.

However, with the experienced skipper Babar Azam and all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez preset at the crease, Zimbabwe had to keep it going until the very end and their bowling duo of Luke Jongwe (4/18) and Ryan Burl (2/21) did just that.  Eventually, the Men in Green could make just 99 runs as Zimbabwe went on to script one of the famous T20I victories in world cricket.

Sri Lanka castles New Zealand in the 2014 T20 World Cup

It took India 10 years to match this record created by Sri Lanka in the T20 World Cup. The 2014 edition of the ICC tournament saw Sri Lanka clubbed together with New Zealand in Group 1 and previous results in the points table made this clash a do-or-die match to progress to the semi-finals.

New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum won the toss and opted to field first, putting Sri Lanka into bat. The Black Caps bowled out Sri Lanka for 119 in 19.2 overs, making them the favourites to win the match.
 

Rangana Herath

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However, Sri Lankan spinner Rangana Herath delivered an extraordinary spell, taking five wickets for just three runs in 3.3 overs. This stunning performance led to New Zealand being bowled out for 60, allowing Sri Lanka to advance to the semifinals and ultimately lift the trophy. This match is the fifth-lowest total defended in T20I cricket history.

These above matches showcase the pivotal role that bowlers can play in a format that is designed to be entertained by the batsmen. From Zimbabwe's impressive defence of 105 runs against West Indies to Sri Lanka's dramatic win over New Zealand in the 2014 T20 World Cup, these instances of low-score defences will always be etched in cricketing history.

FAQs

What is the lowest score in T20 ever?

The Isle of Man holds the record for the lowest T20 score of all time. The team was bowled out for just 10 runs in a T20I match against Spain on February 23, 2023.

What is the lowest score defended in IPL?

The lowest defended score in IPL is 116 runs, successfully done by Chennai Super Kings (CSK) against the now-defunct Kings XI Punjab in 2009.

Did anyone score 200 in T20?

West Indies’ Rahkeem Cornwall became the first batter to score a double century in T20 cricket, surpassing compatriot Chris Gayle,’s previously set highest T20 individual score of 175 runs during the sixth edition of the Indian Premier League in 2013.

What is the lowest score in Pakistan Super League (PSL) history?

The lowest score in PSL history is 59 runs which was scored by Lahore Qalandars against Peshawar Zalmi at the Dubai International Stadium on February 12, 2017.    

Subhayan Dutta
Subhayan DuttaSports Writer

An M.A. in English Literature, Subhayan is an experienced journalist and sports writer. Having worked as a journalist at Hindustan Times, Subhayan covered diverse beats including sports, education, and health, showcasing his versatility and in-depth understanding of various subjects.