The first week of matches in the ICC World Twenty20 has yielded plenty of contenders for this week's Cricket World Player of the Week award. Brendon McCullum, Luke Wright, Shane Watson and Ajantha Mendis are the four names on the shortlist, with Watson nudging ahead as the outright winner by dint of his consistent all-round performances for Australia against Ireland and the West Indies.
In Australia's first match against Ireland, Watson - opening the bowling as it appears he will do all tournament - took three for 26 with the ball, including the vital wicket of a well-set Kevin O'Brien, and then hit 51 off only 30 balls to help ease his side home by seven wickets. He followed that up three days later with two wickets and an unbeaten 24-ball 41 against the West Indies. His and Mike Hussey's decision to plunder the eighth over, bowled by Marlon Samuels, for 22 runs in that game meant that Australia were ahead by 17 runs on the Duckworth Lewis method when the rain arrived a couple of overs later.
He spoke afterwards about it being a deliberate decision to target Samuels' off-spin, saying, "I just knew at that stage that Marlon was going to be the guy for Mike Hussey and me to have to try to take down, knowing that we were going to need one really big over to stay in the match.
"Until I saw it was drizzling and the groundstaff running to the covers I had no idea there was rain coming so it didn't influence the way we batted at all. We knew we had to get the runs to balls down as quick as we could."
Of the other contenders for this week's award, McCullum's finest hour was his epic 123 off only 58 balls against Bangladesh where he became the first man in the history of Twenty20 Internationals to hit two centuries, while Mendis took the best ever bowling figures in a T20 International with six for eight in the tournament opener against Zimbabwe. Luke Wright, for his part, equalled the highest score by an Englishman in a T20 International when he made 99 not out against Afghanistan.
© Cricket World 2012
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