With only a few days until the ICC World T20 tournament starts in Bangladesh, I take a look at the men who could lead their teams all the way.
Have your say on who will win the ICC World T20 below:
Australia – Aaron Finch:
Australia have quite a few danger men but if Aaron Finch fires, then Australia will win. The 27 year old opener has made a name for himself as a powerful and dominant batsman and he well and truly put England to the sword in August 2013. His 156 from 63 balls remains the highest score in an international T20 fixture and his 14 mammoth sixes in that innings is also a record. Finch also had a very good Big Bash League in 2013/14 in which he averaged over 50 for the Melbourne Renegades, so he will be going into the competition in fantastic form.
Bangladesh – Shakib Al Hasan:
Shakib Al Hasan is pivotal to Bangladesh’s success in this competition and the experienced all-rounder will look to inspire the rest of his team in their own back yard. Shakib has proven on the grandest stage of them all (the IPL) how useful a cricketer he is and his record speaks for itself. 36 international T20 wickets at an average under 20 and an economy rate just over 6 are brilliant statistics for a player from one of the ‘minnows’.
England – Jos Buttler:
England’s current limited overs wicketkeeper Jos Buttler has set the game alight over the past 2/3 years with his inventive shots and powerful hitting at the death. England have desperately missed a ‘finisher’ in one-day cricket recently and Buttler has all the right qualities to fill this vacant gap. Buttler had a successful trip to Australia over the winter, scoring handy runs for Melbourne Renegades in the Big Bash League and also chipping in with runs in the series against Australia, as well as scoring heavily on the ongoing tour to the West Indies. English cricket fans know what Buttler can do and the newly signed Lancashire man will be looking to increase his already glowing reputation in Bangladesh.
India – Virat Kohli:
I would say that Virat Kohli is in the form of his life, but after following his career this far I think he has even more to give! The 25 year old batsman has already been entrusted with the captaincy in MS Dhoni’s absence, and will surely be India’s next long-term captain. In the middle, he has scored over 2500 ODI runs in the past 2 calender years at an average of 65. He is nothing short of a run machine. Those who have followed the IPL have seen that he can do it in the shortest format as well. In the 2013 IPL tournament, Kohli finished as the 3rd highest run scorer behind the bludgeoning Chris Gayle and Mr.Cricket himself, Mike Hussey. He also played one of the most incredible ODI innings I have ever seen in the recent series against Australia. In a game where India chased down 359 with 7.3 overs remaining, Kohli scored a blistering 100* from just 52 balls in which he peppered the Australian bowling to all corners of the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur.
Ireland – Paul Stirling:
Paul Stirling is still only 23, he seems to have been around for ages. The young Middlesex man is a very capable all-rounder who will be key to how the Irish team get on in this tournament. We’ve all seen what the Irish can do at these major tournaments and Stirling’s right arm off spin and aggressive style at the top of the order will help set the tone for his team. His aggression and stocky build have earned him comparisons with the hot-headed New Zealander, Jesse Ryder. Stirling scored a mammoth 177 from 134 balls against Canada in a ODI, and that remains the highest score from an Irishman in that format. Stirling was Ireland’s top scorer in the recent ICC World T20 Qualifying Series in the UAE and ultimately, his 4 fifties helped Ireland secure their place in this tournament.
Netherlands – Wesley Barresi:
With Ryan Ten Doeschate, easily the greatest Dutch cricketer of all time, not in the squad (no, me neither) Wesley Barresi will take on most of the Dutch responsibility. Barresi was the Netherlands top scorer in the recent ICC World T20 Qualifying Series in the UAE and has also found some form in the recent matches against Kenya, Canada and Nepal. Barresi scored his only ODI century in their defeat against Kenya last month and given that he will have the gloves for the tournament in Bangladesh, Barresi will be crucially important to their progression.
New Zealand – Tim Southee:
There seem to be plenty of danger men in New Zealand’s squad, but I’ve gone for Tim Southee. Southee is easily one of the best death bowlers around, as well as being a handful with the new ball. He has 39 wickets in international T20 cricket, and over 100 wickets in all T20 cricket including a breathtaking 6-16 for Essex against Glamorgan 3 years ago. As well as his bowling, Southee also has one of the fastest Test fifties in the history of the game. In 2008, Southee smashed a 29 ball 50 against England and went on to score 77* from just 40 balls including 9 sixes. He is by no means a mug with the bat.
Pakistan – Saeed Ajmal:
When it comes to top-class spinners, Pakistan have one in Saeed Ajmal. He is very similar to Sunil Narine in the way that he can turn it both ways and, more often than not, the batsman has no idea which way the ball is turning. The 36 year old has taken 81 T20I wickets at an average of 17 whilst going for just over a run a ball. With Junaid Khan and Umar Gul, Pakistan’s fantastic death bowlers, and Shahid Afridi and Mohammed Hafeez being misely in the middle overs, Saeed Ajmal has the freedom to attack the batsmen and be as threatening as possible. I’ve argued for years that Pakistan have the best bowling attack in one-day cricket, and Saeed Ajmal is central to their attack.
South Africa – AB De Villiers:
I’m so jealous of AB De Villiers, he is the ultimate sportsman. Not only is he South Africa’s most consistent batsman, he is a leader and a dynamo in the field. Whether or not he takes the gloves over Quinton De Kock is something we’ll have to wait and see, but if he doesn’t then he is still an unbelievable fielder. AB DV’s international T20 record may not be that impressive (867 runs @ 21), but anyone who has a T20 hundred and is as creative at the death as him is a force to be reckoned with, and a man to be feared as the opposite captain.
Sri Lanka – Lasith Malinga:
Without a doubt the greatest death bowler I have ever seen. Malinga’s unusual action, raw pace and deadly accuracy make him a severe threat to any batting line up. Not only are his 4 overs economical and full of wickets, but the opponents often have to attack other bowlers in order to make up for Malinga’s quota. He has 60 wickets in T20 internationals is good, but 236 wickets in 175 domestic T20 games is incredible and a world record for the Sri Lankan quick.
West Indies – Sunil Narine:
Sunil Narine is one of, if not the, best ‘mystery spinners’ in the modern game. The Trinidadian has made a great impression in the IPL for Kolkata Knight Riders taking … In T20 internationals for the West Indies, Narine has taken 29 wickets at an average of 17 and with an unbelievable strike rate of 5.85! During England’s ongoing tour of the Caribbean, Narine has bamboozled all but Joe Root and Jos Buttler, with Luke Wright looking especially clueless at the hands of his mystery spin. How he bowls will be key to West Indies progression in the tournament and their retention of the World T20 Cup.