ICC T20 World Cup 2022: Players to watch

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More than any other format of the game, T20 cricket is an individual sport, where impact players can single-handedly win matches in the shortest window.

As the T20 World Cup draws near, we take a closer look at the key players expected not only to win matches, but to deliver what is an increasingly coveted trophy.

Hardik Pandya (India)

As a precociously talented young all-rounder, Pandya had an arrogant nonchalance belying the cricketing nous within. But in 2018, after a steady start to his international career, Pandya was stretchered off the field with a back injury, one that many (including Pandya) thought would be career-ending.

It was not. On return from injury, Pandya’s impact has been immediate and devastating. The best short-form player in India’s tour of Australia last summer, Pandya also led the Gujarat Titans to the 2022 IPL title in the franchise’s debut season, playing a key role with both bat and ball. He then starred in India’s Asia Cup campaign, including in a thriller against Pakistan.

Hardik Pandya batting
Source: AAP

He may have matured as a player, but the trademark swagger has remained. With an almost Caribbean presence, Pandya – alongside Suryakumar Yadav – will be India’s most feared batsman in the tournament. It’s a (huge) bonus that Pandya is back to bowling 140+ kph and taking regular wickets, too.

Glenn Maxwell (Australia)

Glenn Maxwell has long under-delivered on his potential, but that’s largely a product of Maxwell’s limitless ability, especially in T20 cricket where he is among the first names on any team sheet.

It is of course impossible (and almost pointless) to set a field to the dynamic Maxwell, who is the world’s most daring and successful exponent of reverse sweeps, switch hits, lap sweeps and ramp shots.

Glenn Maxwell
Source: Flickr

Maxwell boasts an all-round game, with handy off-spin and purely electric fielding his other strengths. In home conditions, in his favourite format, expect Maxwell to light up the tournament.

Liam Livingstone (England)

Liam Livingstone was the number one pick in the inaugural Big Bash League draft, and it’s no secret why: quite simply, Livingstone hits the ball bigger and longer than anyone else in the world.

Livingstone first made headlines when he hit 350 off just 138 balls for his club side in a 50-over match. At the international level, his numbers do not yet make for compelling reading, but Livingstone has enjoyed a stunning 12 months, including for Kings XI Punjab in the IPL and Birmingham Phoenix in the Hundred.

liam livingstone
Source: IANS

A true utility player, Livingstone bowls both off-spin and leg-spin and is short odds to hit the most (and longest) sixes in the tournament.

Babar Azam (Pakistan)

It’s official: Babar Azam has succeeded Virat Kohli as Asia’s “it” batsman. But with one key difference: Azam is more important to Pakistan than Kohli is to India.

With the crispest cover drive in the game, a calming captaincy, and a penchant for racking up runs at record-breaking pace, Azam is not only technically brilliant, but a simply beautiful batsman to watch.

Babar Azam
Source: Flickr

The top-ranked T20 international batsman, Azam is a key figure in Pakistan’s recent renaissance, and will be hungry to deliver some much-needed joy to a country that has been ravaged by recent floods.

Rashid Khan (Afghanistan)

Rashid Khan is perhaps the only Associate player who would walk into any international team. Given how long he has been bamboozling batsmen with the most effective googly in the game, it is easy to forget that Afghanistan’s best player is only 24.

Khan is a veritable T20 mercenary, and is into double-digits for franchise-based representation. While he is picked primarily for his unreadable leg-spin, Afghanistan would do well in the T20 World Cup to better utilise Khan’s prodigious hitting ability, an area where T20 franchises have often failed him.

Rashid Khan
Source: Flickr

DID YOU KNOW? Virat Kohli was the Player of the Tournament in both the 2014 and 2016 T20 World Cups, becoming the first and only player to win the award twice. The other players of the tournament were Shahid Afridi (2007), Tillakaratne Dilshan (2009), Kevin Pietersen (2010), Shane Watson (2012), and David Warner (2021). Only Pietersen and Warner won the award as part of a championship team.

READ ALSO: India v Pak T20 World Cup 2022: The perfect amount of spice

Ritam Mitra
Ritam Mitra
Ritam is an award-winning journalist and lawyer based in Sydney. Ritam writes on domestic and global politics, human rights and social justice, and sport.

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