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Opinion

The best T20I XI of players who retired in the 21st century

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Roar Guru
3 days ago
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In the final part of this series comes the T20I XI.

This was the toughest XI to come up with as some T20I stars that have done well haven’t announced their retirement from T20 internationals as of yet.

Hamilton Masakadza
T20I stats – 1662 runs, 25.96 average, 11 fifties
Although Zimbabwe cricket has declined over the past 15 years, Hamilton Masakadza was one of the few players who stood out. The Zimbabwean opener was a reliable batsman who grew as a player throughout his career, adding more shots in his batting repertoire. Masakadza bowed out of international cricket with a bang, smashing 71 off 42 as Zimbabwe chased down 156 against Afghanistan in a T20 game.

Brendon McCullum (captain and wicketkeeper)
T20I stats – 2140 runs, 35.66 average, two hundreds, 36 catches, eight stumpings
Brendon McCullum scooping Shaun Tait for six is the first thing that comes to my mind whenever someone mentions the former Black Caps skipper. Arguably New Zealand’s best T20 cricketer to date, McCullum was a gun with the bat. His ability to charge down quicks bowling at 145-plus and have a wide range of shots all over the park was freakish. He was a quality captain and keeper, so McCullum gets both roles.

Kevin Pietersen
T20I stats – 1176 runs, 37.93 average, seven fifties
A freak of a player, Pietersen was a consistent match-winner for England. An excellent player of spin and pace, Pietersen would hammer bowlers regardless of their reputation. He loved a battle and embraced it. In the 2010 T20 World Cup, Pietersen scored 248 runs in six innings at an average of 62 and strike rate of 137.77 as England won the T20 World Cup.

Michael Hussey
T20I stats – 721 runs, 37.94 average, four fifties
I never really thought of Hussey as a T20 player. But he proved me wrong. Hussey had the knack of finding gaps all over the ground and could slog it when required. His 60 off 26 batting at number seven against Pakistan in the 2010 T20 Wolrd Cup semi-final is the best T20I innings by an Australian. The way Hussey kept the required run rate within reach before going all guns blazing in the final few overs was astonishing.

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Mike Hussey plays a pull-shot

(Photo by Hamish Blair/Getty Images)

JP Duminy
T20I stats – 1934 runs, 38.68 average, 11 fifties
Duminy is an underrated T20 player. Although he didn’t fulfill his potential in other formats, the South African batsman was a vital cog in South Africa’s T20 middle order. Just like Hussey, Duminy could work the ball around before accelerating when required. He had simple but effective T20 skills.

Aftab Ahmed
T20I stats – 228 runs, 22.8 average, one fifty
Bangladesh is known for producing timers of the ball, but Ahmed is a rare exception. The Chattogram batsman loved to hit sixes for fun and entertain the crowd. Retiring at the age of 29, Ahmed is now involved in coaching teams in Bangladesh domestic cricket. In this XI, Ahmed would be perfect for the finisher’s role.

Shahid Afridi
T20I stats – 1416 runs, 17.92 average, four fifties, 98 wickets, 24.44 average, 6.63 economy
One of the greatest T20 all-rounders of all time, Shahid Afridi finds himself at number seven. Despite his inconsistencies with the bat, Afridi was a match-winner on his day as he could score a quickfire 30-odd to take the game away from the opposition. His bowling was on another level as his accurate leg spinners caught batsmen in a web.

Pakistan all-rounder Shahid Afridi

(AFP Photo/Marty Melville)

Trent Johnston
T20I stats – 32 wickets, 19.87 average, 6.42 economy
Just like in ODI cricket, Johnston was very accurate with the ball in T20 cricket. In the shortest format, Johnston’s change of pace and other variations troubled batsmen as they would struggle to read him. With a batting average of 20.75 and strike rate of 135.32, Johnston was a very handy lower-order T20 batsman for Ireland.

Ajantha Mendis
T20I stats – 66 wickets, 14.42 average, 6.45 economy
After Lasith Malinga, Ajantha Mendis is the best T20 bowler to be produced in Sri Lanka. The mystery spinner made opposition batsmen freeze with his accurate variations. With two six-wicket hauls and a four-for in the 2012 T20 World Cup final, Mendis truly was something special in T20 cricket. Having retired last year from all forms of cricket, Sri Lankan fans will be hoping for the next mystery spinner to turn up soon.

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Ashish Nehra
T20I stats – 34 wickets, 22.29 average, 7.73 economy
Making a comeback into the Indian T20 team through IPL performances at the age of 36, Ashish Nehra became an important T20 bowler for India. Following his comeback in 2016, Nehra picked up 21 wickets at 23.04 with an economy of 7.2. His left-armers were bowled at a skiddy pace, and Nehra was a wicket-taker for India.

Ravi Rampaul
T20I stats – 29 wickets, 24.31 average, 8.51 economy
I wanted to include Samuel Badree, but he hasn’t retired yet, so Ravi Rampaul was my next choice. Rampaul was expensive at times, but he was a wicket-taker. In the 2012 T20 World Cup, Rampaul took nine wickets in seven matches en route to West Indies winning the tournament, including a devastating 3-16 against Australia in the semi-final. Following a Kolpak deal that he signed with Surrey in 2016, Rampaul’s international career seems to be done.