Updated: Oct 17, 2021
It has been five VERY long years since the last edition of the ICC T20 World Cup, and we are now only days away from the 2021 version! T20 cricket as a format has grown leaps and bounds since 2016, where the West Indies came out on top. We are seeing more and more players solely focus on the shorter forms of cricket, the rise of the IPL, many other year-round competitions, plus unrivalled salaries and prize money. All that is worth an article on its own, but this one here will focus on some of the players I am most looking forward to watching in this year's world cup. I have gone and created my own squad of 11 (and a 12th man) almost in a precursor "team of the tournament" format. Be sure to keep a close eye on the players listed below throughout the World Cup, as they are some of the most exciting cricketers in the world right now!
1. Dawid Malan (England) T20i - 30 Innings, 1123 Runs @ 43.19 Ave, 139.33 Strike Rate
Malan is a bludgeoning left-handed batsman who possesses raw power and dazzling flair. Yet, there's a ton of pressure on his shoulders. If Malan doesn't fire, I can't see England firing either. Ranked as the number 1 T20 Batsmen going into the Tournament, they will need him at his very best to progress deep into the finals, especially without Ben Stokes and Joe Root in the squad.
2. Babar Azam (Pakistan)
T20i - 56 Innings, 2204 Runs @ 46.89 Ave, 130.64 Strike Rate
Pakistan's golden boy, who has taken the cricket world by storm! Pakistan will look largely to Azam to steer them toward any form of success. It was only recently when Azam became the fastest player to reach 7,000 career runs in T20 cricket (domestic and International), beating out the likes of Virat Kohli, Martin Guptill and Chris Gayle. If he can take Pakistan deep into the finals and keep those insane numbers up, I can see him winning the player of the tournament award.
3. Virat Kohli (India)
T20i - 84 Innings, 3159 Runs @ 52.65 Ave, 139.04 Strike Rate
The King of all three formats has been on somewhat of a downward spiral this calendar year. Kohli lost captaincy at Royal Challengers Bangalore, which he has held for almost 10 years. He has also only managed to average 28.92 runs in the IPL this past season, which is way down on career averages. You'd be silly to think you can keep this man down for long though! 84 T20 innings with a 52.65 average is simply absurd. Keep an eye on him and India as a team this World Cup. It could be special.
4. Steven Smith (Australia) T20i - 37 Innings, 794 Runs @ 27.37 Ave, 129.52 Strike Rate
At the time of writing, we don't know where Smith will be coming in at in Australia's middle order. But one thing is for sure, he's Australia best and most consistent batsman... that has to count for something. The test arena is where Smith is at his best, averaging an eye-watering 61.80 runs. With that said though, Smith has a knack for rising to the biggest of occasions, and I think we will see that here. He will want a good showing going into the Ashes later on in the summer, and I can't wait to see him load up in the World Cup first.
5. Glenn Maxwell (Australia) T20i Batting - 65 Innings, 1780 Runs @ 31.78 Ave, 158.92 Strike Rate - Bowling - 31 Wkts, 7.50 Econ, 26.16 Ave
The 'Big Show' returned to his destructive best in the IPL this year. Averaging 42.75 runs and blasting 21 sixes! Delhi didn't call upon his bowling as much this past season, but he still managed 3 wickets. If Maxi can keep this hot form up in the tournament, Australia will be very difficult to stop. Another weapon Maxwell possesses that makes him one of the best cricketers going around is his fielding. His blend of quickness, throwing accuracy, and catching ability makes him the best fielder in the world, for me. I can't wait to see the big show unleashed come World Cup time.
6. Hardik Pandya (India) T20i Batting - 33 Innings, 484 Runs @ 19.36 Ave, 145.34 Strike Rate - Bowling - 42 Wkts, 8.17 Econ, 26.45 Ave
We saw what Pandya could produce on our own soil when we hosted India last summer, as he took home the T20 player of the series against us. He is the type of player who can change the tide of any game he is involved in. Pandya has been the victim of a back injury for some time now, not fully allowing him to bowl at his best, and often times not at all. All reports however, seem to be indicating that his bowling is getting better by the day.
"He is getting better day by day, so in the next week or so he might be able to bowl," Indian vice-captain Rohit Sharma said.
He can be electric! Let's hope we see that version of him.
7. Nicholas Pooran (WK) (West Indies) T20i Batting - 34 Innings, 634 Runs @ 22.64 Ave, 124.07 Strike Rate - Keeping - Ct Wk 19, St 3, D/I 0.702
Pooran is another player who can win any game off his own bat. He is becoming one of the sweetest strikers of the ball in the world, highlighted by his maiden T20 century in the CPL, and only needing 45 balls to do it. The West Indies have brought along a very talented squad this year, and they must be just as impressed in Pooran as I am because they've given him Vice-Captaincy at just 26! It is must-watch television when he's at the crease, so make sure to not miss a ball!
8. Mitchell Starc (Australia)
T20i - 41 Innings, 51 Wkts, 7.22 Econ, 21.82 Ave
You could make a case for any Australian quick here, but I've opted for Mitchell Starc. He has been Australia's most consistently damaging bowler in the shorter forms of cricket for some time now and still remains a threat to any batsman who stares down the crease at him. I think he's in for a big tournament and I hope we see the best of what Mitch can bring, as it's so fun to watch.
9. Rashid Khan (Afganistan)
T201 - 52 Innings, 95 Wkts, 6.21 Econ, 12.62 Ave
Regardless of what the ICC rankings say, this guy is the best T20 bowler in the world right now. Australian Big Bash fans would be familiar with what Khan can bring to the table when he broke out with the Adelaide Strikers back in BBL|07, helping Adelaide to win the big bash that year. The guy is still only 23 as well, it feels like he's been around forever! I'm very excited to see what he can produce on the pitches in the UAE and Oman, as well. He seems very set up to have a massive tournament.
10. Trent Boult (New Zealand)
T20i - 34 Innings, 46 Wkts, 8.53 Econ, 23.34 Ave
Boult is so good with the new ball that New Zealand cricket legend, Sir Richard Hadlee, named him and teammate, Tim Southee, as the best new-ball pairing New Zealand has ever seen. That's some massive praise! Boult is also coming off a very good IPL season, finishing with 138 dot balls ranking him 5th on the season. He's also one of the better fielders in the world, and not at all a stranger to taking a one-handed screamer.
11. Jasprit Bumrah (India) T20i - 49 Innings, 59 Wkts, 6.66 Econ, 20,25 Ave
To reference IPL again, as it's the most recent sample we have. Bumrah finished the IPL season with 231.5 MVP points giving him a 7th place finish for the award, despite playing a game less than many in the hunt for the award. He also claimed 21 wickets, which was good enough for 3rd. He's just really, really good, plain and simple. You just know he's going to torch Australia for Michelle as he tends to punish us whenever he plays us. He's a must-watch!
12. Kane Williamson (New Zealand)
T20i - 65 Innings, 1805 Runs @ 31.66 Ave, 125.08 Strike Rate
I had to include New Zealand's prolific captain, so he's my 12th man! Williamson finished the IPL with a 44.33 average and looks poised to star for the 'Black Caps' once again. Like Dawid Malan, there is an amount of pressure on Williamson to perform as they do seem a little light up top on paper, but when has he not performed? He's so classy and always there for New Zealand when they need him. He will be fun to watch, as well.
So, now that we know who to look out for it's time for us to sit back and enjoy what promises to be an amazing tournament. Let me know who you are looking forward to watching or who you think will win the World Cup this year down below in the comments or on social media!
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