Ahead of the ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2021, Afghanistan spin wizard Rashid Khan revealed his top five T20 players from around the world.
Humbly, he did not include himself despite a T20I average of 12.63 and economy of 6.21 and an overall T20 record of 17.62 and 6.35.
Tasked to name his first five choices in a World T20 XI, Khan named two Indian superstars, a Black Caps icon, a West Indian and a South African.
Here’s a run-down of Khan’s five picks and why he selected them.
T20: 10,136 runs at 41.20, strike rate of 133.57
T20I: 3159 runs at 52.65, strike rate of 139.04
One of the game’s greatest ever cross-format batters, Kohli has found unparalleled consistency in T20I cricket.
No one has scored more runs in men’s T20Is than Kohli’s 3,159 and among players who have batted at least 20 times, no one has a better average than his 52.65. Across all men’s T20s he sits 11th for average (41.21) but he’s played in excess of 100 more innings than anyone ahead of him on that list.
Khan summated the Indian maestro’s ability nicely.
“Doesn’t really depend on the wicket, doesn’t matter whatever the wicket is, he is someone who is going to step up and perform,” Khan, an ICC Live the Game Ambassador, said.
Kohli goes into his fourth T20 World Cup campaign for India having been crowned the Player of the Tournament at each of the past two events.
T20: 5429 runs at 31.47, strike rate of 124.86
T20I: 1805 at 31.66, strike rate of 125.08
A long time teammate of Khan at Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Indian Premier League, the leggie picked Williamson for the sense of “calm” he brings to the side.
Like Kohli, Williamson is a batter that proves there’s more to T20 cricket batting than big-hitting, with the Kiwi a master manipulator of fields, sweet timer of the ball and an expert picker of gaps.
With 11 50+ scores from just 49 T20Is as captain, Williamson has thrived as skipper and shown plenty of tactical nous throughout his time in charge. He was particularly impressive at the ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2016, where he led New Zealand to the semi-finals. No team adjusted to the slow, turning wickets of India more impressively at that tournament than the Black Caps.
AB de Villiers
T20: 9424 runs at 37.24, strike rate of 150.13
T20I: 1672 at 26.12, strike rate of 135.16
There have been few more intimidating sights for opposition bowlers than AB de Villiers walking out to bat. Quite simply, there is no good time to be bowling to de Villiers.
“A destructive batsman,” Khan said. “Someone who can give you quick runs at any stage, any wicket, against any bowler and he can play any shot. As a captain, you will always love to have that batsman.”
The man that pops in everyone’s mind whenever the phrase ‘360 degrees batter’ comes up, de Villiers’ repertoire of shots is unmatched globally and has made him one of the most sought after T20 players in the world. It helps that he has a strike rate of 150.13 in the format – the second-best of any of the top 25 run-scorers.
On top of all that, he’s been among the sport’s most impressive fielders throughout his career.
The South African has been crowned Player of the Match 42 times in T20s – a mark bettered only by Chris Gayle in men’s cricket.
T20: 11,236 runs at 31.56, strike rate of 152.62. 300 wickets at 24.75, economy of 8.21
T20I: 1378 runs at 24.60, strike rate of 137.93. 38 wickets at 27.34, economy of 8.42
Khan picked two all-rounders in his five, with both getting the nod for their ability with the bat at the death.
The first of the two was West Indies skipper Kieron Pollard, who is already assured of a spot among the T20 greats.
No one has played more T20s than Pollard’s 568. Only Chris Gayle (14,276) has scored more than Pollard’s 11,236 T20 runs. Those runs have come fast too, with his strike rate of 152.62 the best of anyone among the top 40 run-scorers.
On top of that, he’s also taken 300 wickets in the format.
A T20 World Cup winner with West Indies in 2012 but injured in 2016, Pollard will be looking to lead the Caribbean outfit to their third trophy at the men’s event over the next month.
T20: 2728 runs at 27.28, strike rate of 141.49. 110 wickets at 27.45, economy of 8.14
T20I: 484 runs at 19.36, strike rate of 145.34. 42 wickets at 26.45, economy of 8.17
“These two will be my key (batters) who can chase 80-90 when I need them in the last four-five overs,” Khan said of Pollard and Pandya. “They are the kind of batsmen who can do the job for you easily.”
Free-spirited with the bat and aggressive with the ball, Pandya has been a key cog in India’s T20 batting order since first appearing for the side in 2016.
Still only 28, Pandya has already played 170 T20s and made a name for himself for the big impact he can have in a short space of time as attested to by his strike rate of 141.49. When he hits them, they generally stay hit, with 48 per cent of the 340 boundaries he has hit in T20 cricket going for six.
With the ball, he’s often been the man to step up in the pressure situations, famously two runs off three balls to help India secure a crucial victory over Bangladesh at the last Men’s T20 World Cup.