Sunday, May 26, 2024

ICC: Top stars to look out for

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Photo Credit: ICC

The best players star on the biggest stage and the 2021 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup has brought together some of game’s biggest names.

The best players star on the biggest stage and the 2021 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup has brought together some of game’s biggest names. 

Two years ago in England in the 50-over format we saw Ben Stokes, Kane Williamson and Rohit Sharma produce the goods in the big moments, and it will likely come down to the big names to decide who lifts the trophy that the West Indies claimed five years ago. 

The evolution of T20 cricket means that almost every team is packed with superstar talent, but some provide that X-factor that could swing a game. 

Shakib Al-Hasan (Bangladesh) 

With the speed of the game, players do not have long to make an impact but when you are as complete an all-rounder as Shakib Al-Hasan, it gives you more opportunity than most to win a match. Only Lasith Malinga has taken more T20I wickets, and Shakib will be a go-to bowler in the crucial death overs. And that is before we consider his batting where Shakib has shown time and again that he can be a match-winner. 

Babar Azam (Pakistan) 

A superstar of Pakistani cricket, Babar Azam has established himself among the world’s best batters in all formats. Ever since breaking into the Pakistan T20 team in 2016, Babar has been a prolific run-maker and is already 10th on the all-time runs list despite having started his career four years after anyone else in the top 20. He has also taken on the Pakistan captaincy and will hope to lead them to a second title after their 2009 success. 

Trent Boult (New Zealand) 

T20 cricket might be a batter’s game, but that is not true when you are a bowler of the calibre of Trent Boult. The Kiwi left-armer reminded everyone of his talents with a hat-trick against Australia in the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup in 2019 and alongside the likes of Tim Southee, Lockie Ferguson and Mitchell Santner, he is part of a dangerous Black Caps bowling attack. 

Jos Buttler (England) 

One of the most destructive batters in the sport, Jos Buttler was born to play T20 cricket, with his ability to hammer the ball to all parts. Now a decade into his international career, Buttler first caught the eye when he hit Wayne Parnell for 30 runs off an over back in 2012, and his strike rate of 139.83 is even better than Chris Gayle. In the absence of the injured Ben Stokes, Buttler’s form could be the deciding factor in whether England can add T20 glory to their one-day crown. 

Chris Gayle (West Indies) 

The Universe Boss, Chris Gayle is the first person who comes to mind for most people when they think of T20 cricket. Now 42, Gayle is one of the eight players who is appearing in this World Cup having also featured in the inaugural tournament back in 2007. For someone who appears to play the game in slow motion at times, his raw power means that he is never anything other than box office when at the crease. 

Rashid Khan (Afghanistan) 

Crowned the ICC Men’s T20I Player of the Decade, Rashid Khan’s rise has coincided with Afghanistan’s emergence on the global stage. The leg-spinner’s record is unrivalled, with the best average and strike-rate in the history of the format. He is also a handy batter, and will be the key to Afghanistan’s hopes of reaching the semi-final for the first time. 

Virat Kohli (India) 

No one has scored as consistently as Virat Kohli at ICC Men’s T20 World Cups, averaging more than 86 in the tournament. His average in T20Is in general is also in a different stratosphere to any other player and the India captain will be desperate to maintain that form in the UAE and Oman. Since winning the inaugural tournament in 2007, India have regularly made the knockout stages but are still searching for a second title. If they are to do it, Kohli will need to pour on the runs once again. 

Glenn Maxwell (Australia) 

With a nickname like ‘The Big Show’ Glenn Maxwell is a born entertainer. His strike rate is approaching 160, a frankly ridiculous number and with three T20I hundreds to his name already, he is capable of winning a match on his own. With Aaron Finch and David Warner at the top of the order, and Maxwell coming in a little later, Australia could be a real threat to make some of the biggest scores in the tournament. 

Kusal Perera (Sri Lanka) 

If Sri Lanka are to recreate the heroics of their 2014 success, they will likely need Kusal Perera to play a big role. Along with Dinesh Chandimal, Perera is the only survivor from that 2014 squad, and his big hitting at the top of the order will be crucial to Sri Lanka’s hopes. A good tournament would help him overtake Mahela Jayawardene to become Sri Lanka’s second most prolific batter in men’s T20I cricket behind Tillakaratne Dilshan. 

Kagiso Rabada (South Africa) 

The slow bowlers do not have the monopoly in T20 cricket, even if they tend to get more of the plaudits. But on the potentially slower wickets of the UAE, pure speed will have its part to play, and in Kagiso Rabada, South Africa have one of the fastest bowlers in the tournament. Capable of regularly reaching speeds of 145kmph, Rabada combines his pace with unerring accuracy and at 26 is approaching the peak of his powers. 

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