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Assembling an All-Time T20I XI

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All_Time_T20_XI_cricketThe 20-overs format has been a unique addition to the cricket family. Initially seen as an afterthought, T20 Internationals have rapidly grown in importance over the intervening years to such an extent that the spectator base of the sport as a whole has been increased considerably.

As the ICC T20 World Cup has taken India by storm, let us try and assemble a band of players who can conquer any opposition irrespective of the nature of the pitch.

With every over vital to the proceedings, going into a T20 International without five specialist bowlers is akin to bringing a knife to a gunfight.

Note: The author's list is subjective and all statistics are accurate as of 28th March, 2016.

Openers: It takes two to tango

Who better than Chris Gayle and Brendon McCullum to set the ball rolling? The aggressive New Zealander is capable of immediately denting the opposition bowling lineup with his explosive style whereas Gayle usually gets his eye in before shifting gears. A captain's nightmare, the duo have the experience and power to unsettle any bowling unit at the start of an innings.

While the likes of Tillakaratne Dilshan and Shane Watson have also thrown their hats into the ring, they do not possess the versatility and fear factor that Gayle and McCullum bring. Their penchant for high scores is evident from the 4 centuries and 26 fifties that they have combined.

Statistics:

Chris Gayle - 1510 runs from 48 matches at 36.82 and a strike-rate of 145.75

At the T20 World Cup: 911 runs from 26 matches at an average of 43.38 and a strike-rate of 147.17

Brendon McCullum - 2140 runs from 71 matches at an average of 35.66 and a strike-rate of 136.21

At the T20 World Cup: 637 runs from 25 matches at an average of 28.95 and a strike-rate of 128.42

Middle-Order: Consistency is the watch-word

Virat Kohli's T20 International average is nothing short of extraordinary and his monstrous appetite for run-making bodes well for any team. The Player of the Tournament in the 2014 T20 World Cup, Kohli's remarkable consistency allows the selection of five genuine bowlers without affecting the batting fortunes.

Kevin Pietersen's big-match temperament was on full display during England's successful campaign in the Caribbean. Effective against pace and towering against spin, the 35-year old is just a notch above other high-quality batsmen such as Mahela Jayawardene, Faf du Plessis and Kane Williamson.

Statistics:

Virat Kohli - 1552 runs from 42 matches at an average of 55.42 and a strike-rate of 132.99

At the T20 World Cup: 688 runs from 15 matches at an average of 76.44 and a strike-rate of 128.11

Kevin Pietersen - 1176 runs from 37 matches at an average of 37.93 and a strike-rate of 141.51

At the T20 World Cup: 580 runs from 15 matches at an average of 44.61 and a strike-rate of 148.33

Finishers: Landing the knockout punch

The most significant spot in the batting order also requires an uncluttered mind and a busy approach. Michael Hussey clinches the position due to his unparalleled awareness of seizing the crunch moments. Nicknamed 'Mr.Cricket', the Australian cricketer orchestrated a miraculous victory at St Lucia by outclassing the dangerous Saeed Ajmal.

In at number 6 is the seasoned MS Dhoni who also takes up the captaincy. One of the greatest finishers in the modern game, he edges out other wicket-keepers including Kumar Sangakkara, Jos Buttler and Brad Haddin due to his tactical acumen. Often coming in to bat with only a few overs left, Dhoni is accomplished at inflicting serious damage towards the end.

Statistics:

Michael Hussey - 721 runs from 38 matches at an average of 37.94 and a strike-rate of 136.29

At the T20 World Cup: 437 runs from 21 matches at an average of 54.62 and a strike-rate of 139.61

MS Dhoni - 1026 runs from 67 matches at an average of 35.37 and a strike-rate of 121.42

At the T20 World Cup: 514 runs from 32 matches at an average of 34.26 and a strike-rate of 122.96

Spinners: Turning the match on its head

When the T20 International came into the picture, spinners were not given much of a chance due to the brevity of the format. However, as time progressed, captains began using the slow bowlers during different stages of an innings, working wonders with them. What transpired has been the undeniable fact that almost every T20 World Cup title winning side had a wicket-taking spinner in their ranks.

Some of the contenders include threatening and versatile bowlers such as Saeed Ajmal, Sunil Narine, Graeme Swann, Imran Tahir, Samuel Badree. Narine and Tahir have proved to be extremely dominant in the middle-overs by stifling many a batting lineup with their remarkable reliability. They can also bowl inside the Power Play or at the death which could turn out to be the difference.

Statistics:

Sunil Narine - 40 wickets from 34 matches at an average of 17.75 and an economy of 5.69

At the T20 World Cup: 15 wickets from 12 matches at an average of 15.4 and an economy of 5.17

Imran Tahir - 43 wickets from 27 matches at an average of 15.37 and an economy of 6.48

At the T20 World Cup: 18 wickets from 9 matches at an average of 11.88 and an economy of 5.94

Fast Bowlers: Pace, yorkers and wickets go together

Be it swinging the new ball to pick up early wickets or returning in the death overs to wrest back control, pacers have always had a say in T20 Internationals. Lasith Malinga is the spearhead given his vast experience in snaffling wickets when the team is really desperate. The curly-haired Sri Lankan broke the momentum of India's innings in the 2014 T20 World Cup final with his astounding control.

Joining him would be the Pakistani duo of Mohammad Amir and Umar Gul. While Amir provides the left-armer's angle, Gul is a canny operator with his pin-point accuracy. There is nothing to separate Gul and Dale Steyn in the shortest format. However, the Peshawar-born seamer gets the nod because of his knack of landing the yorkers relentlessly and delivering seething spells.

Statistics:

Umar Gul - 85 wickets from 60 matches at an average of 16.97 and an economy of 7.19

At the T20 World Cup: 35 wickets from 24 matches at an average of 17.25 and an economy of 7.30

Lasith Malinga - 78 wickets from 62 matches at an average of 20.28 and an economy of 7.26

At the T20 World Cup: 38 wickets from 31 matches at an average of 20.07 and an economy of 7.43

Mohammad Amir - 34 wickets from 29 matches at an average of 22.23 and an economy of 7.06

At the T20 World Cup: 17 wickets from 17 matches at an average of 26.17 and an economy of 7.17

The Final XI: Chris Gayle, Brendon McCullum, Virat Kohli, Kevin Pietersen, Michael Hussey, MS Dhoni (C) (WK), Umar Gul, Sunil Narine, Mohammad Amir, Lasith Malinga, Imran Tahir



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Ram Kumar is passionate about all sports, especially cricket. His favorite cricketers include Rahul...

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