Thursday, May 1, 2014

My World T20 Eleven

The World T20 has come to an end after three weeks of thrilling cricket. There is no tournament in this world that provides entertainment and competition like the World T20. Once these tournaments end, there is a sense of withdrawal, an emptiness, that you are unsure of how to fill; and you can't help but reflect about the matches and the players that left an impact on you and the cricket world.

Here are the eleven players that left had the biggest impact on the World T20 in my opinion.

The Openers - Numbers 1 and 2

Several openers did well and ended the tournament among the leading 10 run scorers in the World T20. Rohit Sharma, Hashim Amla, David Finch all gave their teams good starts throughout the World T20 and notched up impressive tallies.

But the two openers that left the greatest impact on the tournament are the two centurions - Alex Hales and Ahmed Shehzad. Both Hales and Shehzad became the first batsmen from their respective countries to knock T20 centuries.

It is interesting to note that England and Pakistan were the only two test playing nations (besides Bangladesh and Zimbabwe) who did not have a T20 centurion among their ranks before the start of this World T20.

Quite fitting that they do now.

The Number 3

This is probably the most easiest choice as it is impossible to ignore the leading run scorer of the tournament and man who ends a tournament with a 100+ average. That too a T20 series / tournament.

Virat Kohli's tally of 319 runs is the also the highest number of runs scored in any World T20 tournament. Kohli was in sublime form throughout the competition and he never looked like getting out. In the final, it seemed like it was only he was out there to play while the rest of the Indian batsmen struggled against a good bowling attack on sluggish pitch.

Virat Kohli is in a league of his own. There is absolutely no comparison.

The Middle Order

The stand out middle order batsmen in this world T20 were Glenn Maxwell, JP Duminy, and Darren Sammy.

In a tournament where Australia refused to turn up, one man definitely turned up. Glenn Maxwell spared no one and smashed all bowlers to all corners of the grounds he played in so effortlessly that it looked like he was playing against school boys. I have not seen anyone deposit balls over midwicket and square leg with the ease that Maxwell did throughout this World T20.

It is difficult to be the best batsman in your team when you have names like Hashim Amla and AB De Villiers in there. But JP Duminy managed just that, despite both Amla and De Villiers being in fine touch.

No one finished games in this World T20 the way Darren Sammydid. No one clubbed sixes the way Sammy did. No one celebrated hitting sixes the way Sammy did. And no one celebrated winning a game the way Sammy and the West Indies did.

You can't keep a man who averaged over a 100 and hit the ball at a strike rate of over 220 out of any team.

What's more is that all three of these batsmen - Maxwell, Duminy, and Sammy - can bowl as well!

The Wicket Keeper

Even though he failed with the bat, Quinton De Kock was by far the best wicket keeper in the World T20. Everyone was raving about Dale Steyn defending 7 runs in that final over against catch of Luke Ronchi, which could have so easily gone for four to third man. Not many wicket keepers in this world would have held on to that.

The Spinners

With the World T20 played in the subcontinent, the spinners were always going to be crucial. It is no surprise that 4 of the leading 5 wicket takers in the World T20 are spinners. Imran Tahir, Samuel Badree, Ravi Ashwin and Amit Mishra scripted many  a victory for their teams.

Imran Tahir ended the World T20 as the leading wicket taker in the tournament, despite playing a game less than both Ashwin and Mishra. Leaving him out of this team will be injustice.

There is very little to choose from between Badree, Ashwin, and Mishra. Badree and Ashwin took 11 wickets each, while Mishra took 10. Badree and Ashwin have slightly better economy rates than Mishra.

I would play both Badree and Ashwin but considering that Maxwell and Duminy can also turn over their arms, it will be too many spinners in the side. And I do think that a team should have at least two genuine pacers, no matter what the conditions.

I'll go with Ashwin purely because of variety. Playing two leg spinners can never be a good strategy.

The Pacers

It is very difficult to ignore Ahsan Malik, the highest wicket taker among the pacers in this World T20. In fact he is the joint highest wicket taker of the tournament. He did play two more games than other pacers, but his average, economy, and strike rate in the tournament were phenomenal.

His 5-19 almost led the Dutch to victory over South Africa. It was the only 5 wicket haul by a pacer in the entire tournament and one of the only two 5 wicket hauls in this World T20.

Dale Steyn took wickets, won South Africa a match, but he was expensive. The pacer who made a greater impact in my opinion was Nuwan Kulasekera. He opened the bowling for the champions and got early wickets for them almost every time. He was also one of the few pacers who finished the World T20 with an economy of less than 7 runs an over.

This is the World T20 IMPACT Eleven:

1. Alex Hales 2. Ahmed Shehzad 3. Virat Kohli 4. Glenn Maxwell 5. JP Duminy 6. Qinton De Kock (WK) 7. Darren Sammy* (C) 8. Nuwan Kulasekera 9. Ravi Ashwin 10. Ahsan Malik 11. Imran Tahir

12th man: Samuel Badree

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