Team of the tournament

To try and pick a tournament team based on proceedings at the inaugural World Twenty20 is a tough ask. There are so many options available, with many players deserving to make the final XI and some stunning performances that must be taken into account when selecting this team. Then there is the question of team compilation, should we select six batsmen and five bowlers? Or should we try to incorporate an all-rounder in the mix? As expected, the two finalists have been rewarded with four players each from India and Pakistan making the side, while Australia fields two representatives and New Zealand contributes the sole player.

There were plenty of players who were unlucky to miss out. Chris Gayle scored the first ever international Twenty20 century yet couldn’t find a place. Nor could Brendan Taylor, the wicket-keeper from Zimbabwe who scripted the biggest upset of the tournament with his match-winning 60* against Australia. Kevin Pietersen, Justin Kemp and Craig McMillan were all stars for their sides yet could not break into the solid middle-order. On the bowling side of things, there were many other options. Irfan Pathan forged a successful comeback to international cricket with accurate left-arm bowling through the middle part of the innings, while Morne Morkel and Mohammad Asif could feel hard-done by for not finding their way into the side.

To keep these quality players out of the team, there must be some absolute superstars that did earn selection. Below is the CricketWeb team of the World Twenty20.

Matthew Hayden
Runs – 265, Average – 88.33, Strike Rate – 144.80

Much like the fifty over World Cup, Hayden dominated this tournament. There wasn’t a batsman that produced runs as consistently as the big Australian, ending as the leading run-scorer, despite playing one less game than India and Pakistan. He was also able to finish games, as indicated by half of his innings being not-out. No batsman scored as many half centuries as Hayden’s four and all were made at a very health strike rate.

Gautam Gambhir
Runs – 227, Average – 37.83, Strike Rate – 129.71

Gambhir was a consistent achiever, very rarely flashy, instead relying on his opening partner to get India off to a flying start. However, his 75 in the final was what kept India in the game, dragging them to a respectable total that the bowlers could work with. He was also electrifying against New Zealand and England, and ended up as the second highest run-scorer for the tournament. Given the powerful yet inconsistent batting line-up around him, Gambhir played with great maturity and set an example running between the wickets, something that proved to be vital.

Shoaib Malik (c)
Runs – 195, Average – 39.00, Strike Rate – 126.62

Shoaib Malik is one of the more debateable choices in this team, but throughout the tournament his captaincy was original and thoughtful, while his batting remained as potent as ever. It was his innings in the big games that counted though, and his unbeaten half century against Australia was what brought Pakistan home, as well as a cameo in the semi-final against New Zealand. He struggled in the final, which could have cost him a spot in the side, but the added weight of his leadership and part-time off-spin secured it.

Yuvraj Singh
Runs – 148, Average – 29.60, Strike Rate – 194.73

In many ways the star of the tournament, Yuvraj Singh proved to be India’s big batting weapon. An excellent ODI player in his own right, he transferred that into the even shorter format of the game and played some amazing innings. There were some astonishing individual moments for Yuvraj, including pelting six sixes in an over, scoring the fastest ever Twenty20 half century from just 12 balls, and a blistering 70 from 30 against Australia in the semi-final. The cool attitude and big hitting he brings to the middle order is invaluable, as is his electric fielding and confident leadership.

Runs – 218, Average – 54.50, Strike Rate – 139.74

The unlucky man of the World Twenty20, Misbah-ul-Haq twice clawed Pakistan back into matches only to fall at the final hurdle, both times being against India. His 53 in the round robin and 43 in the final were both inspired knocks, innings played under immense pressure. However, he pulled up short in both and was unable to finish the job, an unfortunate fate for himself and Pakistan. A match winning half century against Australia is small consolation, but Misbah finds a place in this team through consistency, and the ability to perform under pressure.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk)
Runs – 154, Average – 30.80, Strike Rate – 128.33

The captain of the winning side, MS Dhoni proved to be a calm and efficient leader, inspiring pride and belief amongst his young side and taking them to victory. His wicket-keeping was up to standard, something that he will be very happy with, and his batting was generally good. He helped to pillage the Australians in the semi-final and in combination with Rohit Sharma played a match winning innings against South Africa. Dhoni was a model of consistency throughout the tournament, but almost chucked it away in the final with a dirty slog. He was the best of the wicket-keeper batsman and comfortably fended off the challenge from Adam Gilchirst and Brendan McCullum.

Shahid Afridi
Runs – 91, Average – 15.16, Strike Rate – 197.82
Wickets – 12, Average – 15.66, Economy Rate – 6.71

Shahid Afridi makes the side as an all-rounder, although his batting was its usual hit and miss self. With a mediocre average it would be easy to dismiss the Pakistani but the impressive factor is his strike rate, an astonishing 197. For every ball he faced, he scored two runs. That’s what is required batting at #7, coupled with the ability to send down a few overs of economic bowling, which Afridi did in style. His skiddy leg-breaks earned him 12 wickets, but he also managed to keep the runs down. Definitely the ideal all-rounder for this side, and balances the team nicely.

Daniel Vettori
Wickets – 11, Average – 11.63, Economy Rate – 5.33

Daniel Vettori, and to a lesser extent Craig McMillan, kept New Zealand in the tournament. Appointed skipper of his country, the left-armer responded in style and bowled with precision accuracy during the tournament. Mixing up his pace as we are used to seeing, he also gave the ball plenty of air and wasn’t afraid to tempt the batsman to hit out. His demolition of India won the game, but was also some of the finest spin bowling in limited overs cricket that the world has seen in a long time. Not to mention how he completely out-foxed Kevin Pietersen, regarded as one of the finest players of spin the world. Many people have criticised Vettori’s appointment as captain, but during this tournament he went a long way towards showing he can lead from the front.

Stuart Clark
Wickets – 12, Average – 12.00, Economy Rate – 6.00

Stuart Clark was a model of consistency for Australia, only conceding a run a ball and taking wickets on a regular basis. Coming into this tournament there were concerns over his bowling, given that he is prone to be hit around the park and doesn’t offer many variations when bowling to a set batsman. He proved these doubters wrong, and was one of the only bowlers who were successful with employing a line and length. If he can continue with this good limited overs form and take it into ODI cricket, Australia will be very grateful.

Umar Gul
Wickets – 13, Average – 11.92, Economy Rate – 5.60

Umar Gul was perhaps the bowler of the tournament, using his toe-crushing yorkers to great effect during the later half of the innings. Used almost primarily after the ten over mark, Gul would consistently run in and give nothing away, picking up wickets with regularity as opposing batsman looked to clear the front leg and deposit him into the stands. His 3/15 against New Zealand was vital in restricting them to a modest total, allowing his team to progress to the final. He ended up as the leading wicket taker and played a large part in Pakistan’s fortunes, unfortunately falling short at the final hurdle, through no fault of his own.

RP Singh
Wickets – 12, Average – 12.66, Economy Rate – 6.33

RP Singh was the surprise package in the bowling department, turning in some very good bowling performances. Picking up his wickets at a rate of two a game, he was the standout with his accuracy and guile. Using the angle created by his left-arm bowling, he constantly beat the bat and had the opposition feeling for the ball outside off stump. Singh was also very smart with his bowling, not giving the batsman room but keeping it away from leg stump. A big effort in the final went a long way towards India winning the tournament, as did his 4/13 against South Africa in a virtual quarter-final. Effective as both an opening and death bowler, India owe much of their success to how he bowled.

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