It was an exciting year in T20 cricket, culminating in the World Cup. Here’s my combined T20 XI comprising the year’s stars of the short form of the game.
1. David Warner (Australia) Average: 48.16, T20I batting rank: 32, HS: 89 vs WI at Abu Dhabi
Proving the abysmal IPL form as just an aberration, David Warner roared back to form in the ICC World T20 while playing a magnificent role in the march to Australia’s maiden title. It was not just the average of 48 or the manner of how dominant he was in getting runs, but rather a desperate hunger to prove critics wrong and the manner of which he came back was enough for him to make it to this side.
2. Mohammed Rizwan (Pakistan) Average: 73.66, T20I batting rank: 3, HS: 104 vs South Africa at Lahore
Something really changed in 2021. Much to the ire of Indian fans, Pakistan finally broke their curse of not being able to defeat India in World Cups and were downright favourites to win the World Cup had it not been for a certain Matthew Wade.
Rizwan was elevated to an opening position and played a massive part in achieving these wonders for Pakistan. Scoring 12 fifties and a hundred in 29 innings, he managed a truly remarkable T20I average of 73.66.
3. Babar Azam (c) (Pakistan) Average: 34.66, T20I batting rank: 1, HS: 77 vs South Africa at Rawalpindi
The second half of the Pakistani opening pair also deserves to be in the team and also be given captaincy for how well he marshalled his depleted troops to the World Cup semi-finals as strong favourites.
The No.1-ranked T20I batsman managed to exceed expectations and provided the support Rizwan needed for the deadliest opening partnership in T20I cricket today.
4. Jos Buttler (wk) (vice-captain) (England) Average: 65.44, T20I batting rank: 8, HS: 101 vs Sri Lanka at Sharjah
The English white-ball vice-captain is the nomination for the wicketkeeper and the vice-captain spot. A lot had been said about Jos Buttler’s immense potential and a lot of critics have subsequently commented on his failures to fulfil it.
He proved those critics wrong by having a wonderful 2021 with five fifties and a hundred in T20Is, along with another century in the IPL.
5. Mitchell Marsh (Australia) Average: 36.88, T20I batting rank: 14, T20I all-rounder rank: 10, HS: 77 vs New Zealand at Dubai
The man of the match in the T20 World Cup final, he really saw his stocks in T20 batting rise this year after being promoted to Australia’s No.3. With six fifties in 21 innings, he was one of those impact players whose handy cameos and knocks were good enough to make the difference.
(Photo by Gareth Copley-ICC/ICC via Getty Images)
6. Jimmy Neesham (NZ) Average: 23.71, wickets: 5, HS: 45 vs Aus at Dunedin, best figures: 2/10 vs Aus at Dunedin
Due to lack of exposure of genuine No.6 all-rounders, we have chosen Jimmy Neesham because of his presence in the field and semi-final performance where he single-handedly knocked out England.
7. Wangidu Hasaranga de Silva (Sri Lanka) Wickets: 32, T20I bowling rank: 1, T20 all-rounder rank: 5, best figures: 4/9 vs India at Colombo
The No.1 T20I bowler really has provided a glimmer of hope to the Sri Lankans, who are arguably still trying to find their way back after 2015.
Wangidu Hasaranga played so well this year that he managed to get an IPL contract in the second half and managed to climb up to the No.1 rankings due to his key bowling, along with his handy cameos with the bat.
8. Tim Southee (NZ) Wickets: 24, T20I bowling rank: 10, best figures: 3/16 vs India at Ranchi
Tim Southee was an under-appreciated and very important part in New Zealand’s march to the final. Able to provide wickets just when they need and similarly provide economical overs, Southee has emerged to be one of the best T20I pacers.
9. Josh Hazlewood (Australia) Wickets: 23, T20I bowling rank: 6, best figures: 4/39 vs West Indies at Abu Dhabi
Josh Hazlewood has had a very interesting year in the shortest format. He truly maximised the learnings and the tricks from MS Dhoni at Chennai Super Kings before applying them in international cricket.
He really learnt to read the conditions and the batsman, and managed to ideally place the ball based on them. He maximised his variations, too, in line and length along with this speed.
10. Shaheen Shah Afridi (Pakistan) Wickets: 23, T20I bowling rank: 12, best figures: 3/26 vs West Indies at Karachi
That ball to KL Rahul, that was the quality of Shaeen Shah Afridi this year, especially with the new ball and his ability to use the pace to swing it either way. The left-arm pacer was used magnificently by Babar Azam and was a very important element of the Pakistani squad by providing early breakthroughs and shifting the momentum to his side more often than not.
11. Tabriaz Shamsi (South Africa) Wickets: 36, T20I bowling rankL: 2, best figures: 3/25 vs Pakistan at Lahore
Tabriaz Shamsi was also a critical element of the T20Is this year and achieved the No.1 spot for a good part of it. At No.2, he proved to be still the most potent of bowlers, striking at critical points and bringing in crucial wickets. He took an impressive 36 wickets in 22 innings with two four-wicket hauls.