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Cricket World #GOAT XIs T20I

West Indies' Chris Gayle

Call me boring, but I have never enjoyed T20 cricket. Yes, I do watch the Big Bash and the Indian Premier League but it just does not have the same thrill and the challenge of a test match. I agree that it needs a different level of skills, but I’d rather have someone fight it out for an entire day than use both edges of the bat and steer his way to a breezy 20 not out. However, as the game continues to evolve, I have no choice but to accept the fact that this could be the future of cricket and hence, here’s my favorite T20 XI:

  1. Chris Gayle – The person with the most T20 runs and with nobody coming even close to him, one would be a fool to not select the Universe Boss in his all-time T20XI. Take an alphabet and there’s a chance that Gayle has played for a T20 team starting with it. He is coming to the twilight of his career (or that’s how people have been thinking for some time now), but the Universe Boss still looks hungry to tear apart a few more bowlers before he hangs up his boots [Mt. 404, Runs 13,226, SR. 146.94]

  2. Brendon McCullum (captain) – For any Indian who saw the first ever IPL game, he or she would know this name. McCullum blazed his way to 158 not out in that game and forever etched his name into the hearts of Kolkata fans. His captaincy was as dynamic as his batting and even till the time he hung up his boots, he could beat any youngster on the field with his athleticism. He was never shy of going down on one knee even if it was to the pace of Shaun Tait. He brought a breath of fresh air into New Zealand cricket and hence would be my captain. [Mt. 370, Runs 9,922, SR. 136.49]

  3. Brad Hodge – As with my Test and ODI XI’s I needed to have a left field selection and this is that selection. He was perhaps unlucky to have not played more games for his country. Hodge was one of the first people to make his mark when the format was introduced. In his debut back in 2003 for Leicestershire, Hodge smashed 97 of 61 balls and picked up three wickets for six runs from his two overs. The most I saw of him was in his twilight years for the Rajasthan Royals in the IPL and the Melbourne Stars and Renegades for the Big Bash. What stood out about Hodge was his ability to think ahead of the game and stay calm under pressure. In a game where you need to make it matter during the big moments, you can bank on the Dodgeball to come good. [Mt. 277, Runs 7,406, SR. 131.28]

  4. AB de Villiers – The only player to feature in all my all-time XI’s and why wouldn’t he? There will probably not be a cricketer like him who entertained as well as this guy did in each and every format that he played in. Be it going down on one knee and lapping his fellow Protea Dale Steyn for a six in the IPL or taking those screamers in the outfield year after year. If T20 cricket is pure entertainment, then you need not look beyond de Villiers for a show stopper. It’s the only format he continues to play, albeit selectively, but boy does he still continue to dish out his best. A national return could be on the cards, but until then I wouldn’t mind seeing a few more breathtaking knocks in domestic cricket. [Mt. 310, Runs 8,657, SR. 149.77]

  5. Shane Watson – The mighty Shane Watson only became mighty after he achieved success in the IPL under the captaincy of Shane Warne. It finally turned him into the cricketer that he always strived to be and made him a force in international cricket. Even though this would be an unusual position for him as opposed to his preferred opening slot, but its hard to make room for him given the big guns at the top. Watson has achieved tremendous success in this format both internationally and in franchise cricket. He continues to churn out the runs with the bat even though his bowling days have come to an end. During his prime, he could demolish attacks with his straight hits and pull shots (and still does) while delivering those reverse swinging yorkers at crucial junctures to pick up key wickets. He continues to be an all-rounder in my all-time T20 XI.  [Mt. 332, Runs 8,522, SR. 138.99, Wkts. 216, Eco. 7.90]

  6. Eoin Morgan  – Nobody can question the fact that Eoin Morgan is one of the best finishers going around in limited over cricket at present. He is still riding high on the back of leading England to a successful 50 over World Cup and was close to getting the captaincy arm band over McCullum. Like McCullum, Morgan is fearless and does not shy away from a contest. He is terrific when it comes to tonking those big sixes over covers and long-off or over cow corner. A dodgy back hasn’t affected his fielding yet and he continues to be a livewire on the field. Together with McCullum, he would be the brains trust of this eleven. [Mt. 285, Runs 6,321, Ave. 132.01]

  7. Jos Buttler (wk) – While I have two keepers at numbers two and four, both had relinquished the gloves some time back and hence I had to opt for a finisher who is also a proper gloveman. Jos Buttler falls in the McCullum and de Villiers mode and has a wide range of shots. The death overs require a game changer and since I don’t have Andre Russell in my XI, I need Jos to ‘Boss’ the death overs. My only advice to him would be to not venture too far out of his crease while being at the non-strikers end to avoid being Mankaded! [Mt. 252, Runs 5,782, SR. 144.73]

  8. Dwayne Bravo – Just as bowlers win test matches, they win you T20 games as well! While Mr. DJ Bravo is supposed to be an all-rounder, he is known more for his bowling exploits. The dipping slower ball yorker has flummoxed the best and his death bowling skills coupled with his athleticism and the entertaining celebrations make him an absolute must in the XI. The Champion won’t be shy of singing a victory song either! [Mt. 455, Runs 6,307, SR. 126.82, Wkts. 497, Eco. 8.24]

  9. Lasith Malinga – There’s not much to discuss over here. Lasith Malinga has been the best T20 bowler over the past decade or so and even though his skills are on the decline, he still managed to turn back the clock and win Mumbai Indians the IPL title in 2019. During his prime, his slingy action made his toe crushers a batsmen’s nightmare. A deceptive slower ball and a sharp bouncer did not make lives any easier either. A best of five wickets for six runs in internationals and six wickets for seven runs in franchise cricket shows how he has managed to roll over opposition in a matter of few deliveries. He took his fifth international hattrick back in September 2019 and remains a force to reckon with. [Mt. 295, Wkts. 390, Eco. 7.08]

  10. 10.   Jasprit Bumrah – Who better to partner ‘Slinga’ Malinga than his very own Mumbai Indians teammate Jasprit Bumrah. His exemplary accuracy both with new ball and at the death has fetched him accolades from around the world and is widely regarded by some of the legends as the best limited overs bower at the moment. The uniqueness of his action has made many kids all over the world copy his action. If they manage to replicate his success, then its certain that there won’t be a happy next generation of cricketers. By the time he finishes, he could well end up as a legend of the modern day game. [Mt. 157, Wkts. 182, Eco. 7.06]

  11. 11.   Imran Tahir – It would be wrong to refer to Imran Tahir as a fantastic limited overs ‘leg-spinner’. He is best described as one of the best limited overs spinners, whose lethal googly and a celebration longer than a fast bowlers run up would be hard to replicate. His exemplary control in the middle overs of a T20 game or any limited overs game is what made him famous and even at the age of 41, his hunger still remains undiminished. He is the sole spinner in my eleven with Bradley Hodge and Chris Gayle rolling their arm over if required. [Mt. 290, Wkts. 365, Eco. 7.00]