2009 ICC World Twenty20 – The Best XI of the TournamentGaneshbabu Venkat |
Cricket Web presents the Best XI of the tournament comprising the players with the best performances.
Chris Gayle (captain)
It is hard to think of a T20 eleven without the West Indies captain. He had a decent World Cup scoring 193 runs at an average of 48.25 with the bat at a strike rate of 134.02. He came to the party at The Oval against the Australians and the special treatment he gave out to Brett Lee when he took 27 of a single over alone merits selection. Although he did not have a significant contribution after that whirlwind 88 besides the lone hand he played against Sri Lanka when he scored 63 not out in vain, his presence at the top of the order always presented a difficult proposition for the bowlers and the breakthroughs he provided with his more than useful off-spinners makes him the number one choice as the opening batsmen of the team. His captaincy skills were severely tested during the whole tournament and the West Indies never faced a minnow and his skills were instrumental in them upsetting the likes of India and England and making it to the semis. He edges out Kumar Sangakkara for the captaincy.
As his captain Kumar Sangakkara said there are no superlatives to describe how Dilshan batted, he batted like a dream. He was the best batsman of the tournament topping the run charts with a phenomenal strike rate. He was the lynch pin of the Sri Lankan batting and proved to be a thorn in the flesh of any team. His 317 runs came at a strike rate of 148.13 and with three half-centuries he showcased the immense talent he possesses and his audacious stroke play was a treat to watch. Especially the incredible and outrageous “Dilscoop” shot that he played so effectively. Apart from a second ball duck against Ireland and another duck in the all important final against Pakistan, Dilshan contributed in every game and was instrumental in Sri Lanka reaching the final. His value was highlighted when Sri Lanka struggled to post competitive totals on the two occasions he failed. His knock of 96 in a total of 158 against the West Indies in the semi-final proved that he was the man for a crisis as well. All these make him the obvious choice to partner Gayle at the top of the order. Jacques Kallis ran him close but Dilshan edges out Kallis on the sheer amount of runs he scored.
Shahid Afridi started off the tournament in a headless chicken fashion with the bat but he came into his own as the tournament progressed. He had a mighty turnaround in his fortunes with a stunning catch against New Zealand and started coming to terms with the bat in that game when he started coming in at number three. His adaptability at any position coupled with his big hitting prowess slots Afridi in at the number three position, he was Pakistan’s man for the crisis and dug them out of a hole on more than one occasion both with the bat and the ball. His match winning single handed performances when he emulated the likes of Mohinder Amarnath, Aravinda De Silva and Shane Warne in both the final and the semi-finals slots him ahead of Kevin Pietersen. Afridi’s catching and fielding was exceptional and his leg spinning darts had batsmen bemused and this will certainly be remembered as Boom Boom’s tournament. Arguably the best all rounder of the tournament, he scored runs at brisk pace with a strike rate of 140.80 and finished with 11 wickets as well.
Yuvraj did not hit six sixes this time around. However his batting was of the highest quality and he bailed India out of trouble every time he went out to bat. He shone like a beacon light in India’s otherwise dismal campaign. But for Yuvraj, India would have been embarrassed by Bangladesh in their opening game. His 18 ball 41 provided the necessary impetus against Bangladesh. He was in supreme touch against the West Indies and woke the Indian innings up from a slumber when he hit a regal 41 ball 67. His quick fire 17 against England and his valiant 25 against South Africa could not prevent India from going home empty handed however in the Super Eights. With his ability to turn the match on it’s head and his canny left arm spinners there were not many contenders and Yuvraj takes his rightful place at the crucial number four slot.
AB de Villiers
South Africans had a great tournament till they ran into a red hot Shahid Afridi at Nottingham. They owe most of their success to Jacques Kallis and AB de Villiers. AB was sublime in every match he played and incidentally South Africa won every match AB had a decent outing in and they lost the semis when he scored a duck. Be it his 79 against Scotland or his 63 against India on a minefield or even his brief cameo of 17 against the West Indians, AB was at his very best. His innovative stroke play should put him in at the crucial number five position although England’s Kevin Pietersen and his own team-mate Herschelle Gibbs ran him close. Nevertheless AB’s exciting stroke play coupled with his excellent fielding tilted the scales in his balance. AB had an outstanding time in the field and took five catches and was second in the fielding charts.
The effervescent Trinidadian takes the number six spot, although he was a revelation at number four for the West Indies. He won the match against India singlehandedly shining with both the ball and the bat and almost took them to victory against England in the Super Eights and Sri Lanka in the league stage. His runs came at a brisk strike rate of 145.28 and he finished with ten wickets. His handling of the spinners was exceptional. The way he used his feet against the spinners reminded us of the glory days of Brian Lara. Needles to say his bowling was of the highest order and he was a live wire anywhere in the field. Although he failed to inspire the West Indies in the semis Bravo’s ability to change the game in a blink of an eye makes him the candidate for this crucial number six spot. There were no real contenders for this spot to compete with Bravo.
Kumar Sangakkara (wicket-keeper)
Kumar Sangakkara was flawless behind the stumps, His batting was consistent throughout the series right from his crucial partnership with Jehan Mubarak against Australia during the tense chase in the league and his invaluable knock of 64 not out in the final against Pakistan. Sangakkara exhibited cool headedness even in dire situations, his useful contributions against New Zealand and Ireland in the Super Eights make him the preferred choice at number seven. If not for his indiscretion to give Isuru Udana the 17th over of the final when Sri Lanka where still in the hunt, Sanga would very well have been the captain of the side. His captaincy skills were tested in just one game in the final against Pakistan and he failed the test even with Lasith Malinga, Ajantha Mendis and Muttaiah Muralitharan at his disposal.
Umar Gul announced himself in this T20 World Cup when Pakistan where facing a do or die battle against New Zealand with a sensational spell of reverse swing bowling that undid the Kiwis. He had the Irish hoping for cover and one wonders why Pakistan were obsessed with Mohammed Asif and Shoaib Akthar with such an exceptional talent available. Gul’s control over the ball was admirable, returning best figures of 5-6 with an outstanding qverage of 12.15 and economy rate of 6.44. His performance against South Africa in the semis is also worth mentioning when he bowled yorker after yorker that helped his team stop the rampaging South African juggernaut. Gul topped the wicket taking charts and edges out the South African left arm bowler Wayne Parnell for the all important opening bowler’s slot.
His bowling was perhaps the most unorthodox of all the bowlers in the competition and his slingers from an awkward position and his toe-crushers were virtually unplayable. He bowled beautifully against Australia when they were threatening to run away with the game and cleaned up the Irish tail when they started mounting a serious challenge to the modest Sri Lankan total in the Super Eights. The only off day he had was against the West Indies when he went for 45 runs in four overs during their league game, but his slingshot action coupled with his ability to bowl yorkers at will makes him the new ball partner for Gul, although Fidel Edwards made a good fight to steal that slot. En the end Malinga’s consistency and his 12 wickets edged Edwards out.
Perplexed, bamboozled, confused, bemused. It’s hard to find words to describe how batsmen fared against him. It was a next to an impossible task to decode Mendis and batsmen fell like nine pins. Be it his carom ball or the traditional off spinners batsmen were left wondering how to play him. He returned surreal figures in T20 cricket and whenever Sri Lanka needed a break through he provided it. Be it against the West Indies in the league game when he foxed Shiv Chanderpaul or against minnows Ireland when he beat them with his flight and variation. Mendis had just one bad game during the whole tournament and unfortunately that was in the final. Nevertheless there were no real contenders for this slot and the mystique spinner Mendis was an easy choice for the number one spinner in the side.
If Mendis was the new kid on the block, Saeed Ajmal caught the attention with his 12 wickets in the tournament. He is no spring chicken but his variety and the way he used his doosras was superb. Most of the batsmen had difficulty picking him and with his exceptional ability to turn the ball on unresponsive surfaces he made life miserable for the batsmen. The unheralded Ajmal had an outstanding tournament with 12 wickets at an average of 13.58 and economy rate of 5.82. This is no mean feat for an off spinner in T20 and his crucial spell in the semis and the final when he lend an able hand to Afridi helped Pakistan strangle South Africa and Sri Lanka in the middle overs. This makes him the second choice spinner ahead of the old wily fox Muttiah Muralitharan.
12th Man: Wayne Parnell