With the Twenty20 format being the place where players can earn their riches and stars can quickly become household names, we look at 10 of the best T20I talents currently plying their trade in international cricket at the moment.
In no particular order, here they are:
RASHID KHAN (AFGHANISTAN)
The talented leg-spinner, who was recently retained for big-money by Sunrisers Hyderabad in the IPL auction, is cricket’s next big thing and at just 19, is already making waves. With Afghanistan’s status in the game growing, we should be seeing more of a man who is also handy with the bat.
VIRAT KOHLI (INDIA)
Heralded as the world’s best batsman across all formats, the Indian captain averages an indomitable 52.86 in the format and that’s despite not yet having scored a T20I hundred. Nevertheless, with virtually every stroke in his locker, a big-game presence and consistency in the bucket load, the 29-year-old is indispensable.
MITCHELL SANTNER (NEW ZEALAND)
The Kiwi is the world’s top-ranked bowler and all-action with ball and bat. His slow, left-arm delivery and ability to mix it up with pace and variety is certainly unique. Santner has a knack for getting good batsmen out and has a frightening strike rate of 129.77 with the bat. Class act.
SHAKIB AL HASAN (BANGLADESH)
Another special talent, the Bangladesh all-rounder is the leader of his trade when it comes to contributions with the willow and ball in hand. He is a big-game performer and carries the hopes of his country with little fluster. 73 wickets at just over 20 and a strike rate above 121 showcase his skill.
AARON FINCH (AUSTRALIA)
Few players are more destructive at the top of the order than the Australian opener. Seemingly built to whack the ball hard and far, the 31-year-old boasts an unreal 148 strike rate and 1,132 runs to date at an average of 37.73 from 33 matches. His selection here was never in doubt.
BABAR AZAM (PAKISTAN)
The Lahore-born man is a fluent batsman and at home in the quickfire conditions of T20 cricket. Having climbed to the top of the ICC batting rankings in the format last month, it was further proof that the cousin of the Akmal brothers is set to become one of marquees names of Pakistani cricket despite being just 23.
COLIN MUNRO (NEW ZEALAND)
The bruising New Zealander is one of the biggest hitters around and has a strike rate topping 157, as well as three international tons, to boot. At home when he is ready to wind up and whack it square of the wicket, Munro can take apart any attack on his day and is to be feared.
BEN STOKES (ENGLAND)
The Rajasthan Royals splashed big cash to acquire the England all-rounder’s services for the IPL, and despite a court appearance hanging over him and limited playing time of late, there is no doubt Stokes is one of the standouts in the game and the man with that real crowd appeal.
JASPRIT BUMRAH (INDIA)
A real lynchpin for India in attack, Bumrah (Mumbai Indians) was one of three players retained ahead of the IPL auction and offers pace, guile and uneering accuracy with his slingy action. He has an uncanny capability of keeping things tight at the death and seeing his team over the line in tight situations.
MITCHELL STARC (AUSTRALIA)
Yet another man who was lapped up by the Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL Auction, the Baggy Green quick is capable of bowling at ferocious pace whilst also having the skill at his disposal to outfox many of the best batters in the world. 13 wickets 18.86 in 22 international matches is outstanding.
England expect Jason Roy to be touch-and-go for their first Twenty20 against Australia as the opening batsman battles a back spasm.
Roy, who hit a record 180 in the opening game of the ODI series, was forced to withdraw from Friday’s walkover victory against a Prime Minister’s XI in Canberra and is being monitored by medical staff.
Pace bowler Liam Plunkett is still attempting to shrug off the hamstring strain which ruled him out of the final two matches of the 50-over campaign and must also prove his fitness, but Chris Jordan (hamstring) and Alex Hales (hand) should be ready for Wednesday’s tri-series clash in Hobart.
“Jordan and Hales are expected to be fit, Plunkett and Roy are closer to 50-50,” said captain Eoin Morgan.
“Jason had a light back spasm, overnight that got worse. He woke up Friday and it was worse. It could be five days which runs him tight up to the game in Hobart.”
England’s walking wounded will not have been helped by a travel day on Saturday, hopping from Canberra to Melbourne and then to Tasmania.
That comes hot on the heels of three-hour-plus flights in and out of Perth for the 5th ODI, with the air miles continuing to pile up when the Trans-Tasman series relocates from Australia to New Zealand at the halfway stage.
In a bid to keep bodies and minds fresh, Morgan suggested the squad could adopt a light-touch approach to net practice as the tournament unfolds.
“If anything we could have done with a little more time. One of the reasons the injuries have been niggly is the flight over to Canberra, then two training days,” he said.
“Perhaps we’ll look at that again. We do a lot of flying in this series so we might not train as much as we’re supposed to. Rest and recuperation might limit the injuries a little.”
England are well-placed to paper over Plunkett’s absence should he need more time, with a total of seven seam bowling options on tour including the uncapped Sam Curran and Jake Ball, who is travelling as cover.
And if Roy’s back refuses to relent, David Willey offered a timely reminder of his top-order credentials at the Manuka Oval.
Usually buried towards the tail at international level, he has considerable pedigree as a short-form opener in T20 cricket and was bumped to the head of the innings against the PM’s XI.
He responded in brutal fashion, smashing 79 in 36 balls including 34 in an over off Ashes-winning spinner Nathan Lyon.
Willey teed off with five successive sixes and only fell short of a maximum haul when stroking the final ball of the over for four.
As well as putting a hefty dent in Lyon’s white-ball aspirations, he did his own hopes of a promotion no hard at all.
“We’ve guys queuing up at at the minute, which is great. Dave could be an option at the top,” said Morgan.
“He was asked to go and open and was phenomenal really. Five balls in I was sure he was going to hit a sixth six, it just felt like he would. It was Chris Gayle-esque hitting.”
Despite such lofty praise – nobody on the circuit invokes the Jamaican lightly – Willey probably sits behind first-choice duo Hales and Roy as well as James Vince in the pecking order, and may need to wait for more opportunities down the order.
Australia cruised to a seven-wicket victory against New Zealand in their rain-hit Twenty20 match at the Sydney cricket Ground on Saturday.
The hosts were set a revised total of 95 from 15 overs following New Zealand’s score of 117.
And they reached their target with 21 balls still to spare despite losing captain David Warner and debutant D’Arcy Short inside the opening three overs.
Chris Lynn (44) and Glenn Maxwell (40 not out) put on a partnership of 77 to seal a crushing win.
Earlier, quick bowler Billy Stanlake took three New Zealand wickets from his first eight balls to set up Australia’s victory.
Stanlake, 23, in only his fourth international match, took the scalps of Colin Munro and Martin Guptill with consecutive balls, before removing Tom Bruce as he ended with impressive figures of three for 15.
Australia play England in the second match of the tri-series in Hobart on Wednesday.
— cricket.com.au (@CricketAus) February 3, 2018