Twenty20 batting nominees January 15, 2011

Hussey's steal, Baz's roll

Dustin Silgardo
Eight go ballistic

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Mohammad Shahzad 65 not out v Ireland
World Twenty20 Qualifiers, Dubai

A half-century at a strike rate of 141.30 - quick, but not unusual for a Twenty20 match - especially one against Ireland's bowling attack, would not usually win any awards. But Shahzad's 65 meant Afghanistan - a war-stricken nation, where cricketers did not have access to grounds till 2000 - won the ICC World Twenty20 qualifier. A remarkable feat considering they were in Division 5 of the ICC's World Cricket League in 2008. Shahzad's six boundaries helped Afghanistan chase Ireland's 142 in less than 18 overs, and as if to announce their arrival to the cricketing world, Shahzad thumped a six over cover for the winning runs.

David Warner 67 v West Indies
second Twenty20, Sydney

Warner's massacre of West Indies at the SCG was an advertisement for how entertaining Twenty20s can be. He smashed three sixes and a four off the first four balls he faced, and then in the fifth over decided it was not enough to hit big shots left-handed. With spinner Narsingh Deonarine bowling, Warner switched to a right-handed stance before the bowler was even in his delivery stride. Deonarine pulled out, but Warner then went back to his usual left-handed stance and lofted his second ball over cover anyway to reach the second fastest half-century in Twenty20 internationals. The knock was so violent it left Shane Watson, who was striking at a tawdry 187.8 at the other end, in the shade.

Brendon McCullum 116 not out v Australia
second Twenty20, Christchurch

In a thriller that New Zealand won after a Super Over, McCullum's 116 off just 56 was the standout performance. Shaun Tait made an obscene gesture at him in the first over of the match. McCullum waited till the penultimate over of the innings to respond with two scoops for six over the wicketkeeper's head off Tait. In the meantime he raced to only the second-ever Twenty20 international century, showering boundaries and sixes around the tiny AMI Stadium. He showed complete disregard for an Australian pace attack that also featured Dirk Nannes and Ryan Harris, often sweeping or shovelling them to the fine-leg boundary. The innings won the ICC award for the Twenty20 performance of the year.

Michael Hussey 60 not out v Pakistan
World Twenty20 semi-final, St Lucia

His captain Michael Clarke called him "a freak", Pakistan coach Waqar Younis said he couldn't believe it. Hussey's match-winning innings, in which he scored 22 runs off four balls in the last over of the match to put Australia in the final of the World Twenty20, was one even the most scornful critics of the shortest format praised as a great knock. After coming in at 105 for 5 in the 13th over chasing Pakistan's 191, he did the usual Hussey things: running hard, placing the ball infuriatingly well. Then, with 34 needed off two overs, he picked up Mohammad Amir on the leg side for two boundaries that sandwiched four hard-run doubles. When he pulled the second ball of the last over for maximum, the force was fully with Hussey. The next ball went down the ground, then a sliced cut trickled away, and aptly the finish came with his sixth six of the innings.

Mahela Jayawardene 98 not out v West Indies
World Twenty20, Barbados

Those who say there is no class in the Twenty20 game may want to consider the fact that the highest scorer in the World Twenty20 in May 2010 was Jayawardene - one of the most elegant batsmen around. His 98 against West Indies capped a run in which he scored 279 runs at 139.50 in three games. Jayawardene used a traditional approach and still owned a strike-rate of 163.15. Against West Indies he displayed a silky touch and superb manipulation of the bowling, playing traditional cuts, late-cuts and cheeky paddle shots instead of slogs over midwicket.

Kevin Pietersen 53 v South Africa
World Twenty20, Barbados

With his plane ticket already booked so he could be home for the birth of his son, Pietersen celebrated imminent fatherhood with a blistering half-century. He sent a message to South Africa with the way he played their premier fast bowler, Dale Steyn, smashing him for two fours, including a ruthless cover drive in his first over, and then taking 15 off his next: another mow through the covers, a flicked boundary to midwicket, and a six that landed on the roof of the Kensington Oval. With South Africa's main weapon disarmed, England reached a total of 168 and cruised to a 39-run victory.

Chris Gayle 98 v India
World Twenty20, Barbados

In what was practically a knockout match for both sides, Gayle was at his destructive best but also at his most mature, batting for all bar two balls of the innings. Rather than trying to smash everything before him, he assessed the conditions were tougher than expected after overnight rain, and was steady early on. He picked his moments and targeted certain bowlers, going after the part-time spinners. One blow off Yusuf Pathan sailed out of the ground, over long-on, even though Gayle had played it off the back foot. It was a captain's knock and it kept West Indies in the tournament.

Suresh Raina 101 v South Africa
World Twenty20, St Lucia

What ended up being a disappointing tournament for India started with a blazing century by Raina - only the third in the format at the time. His innings started off shakily as South Africa's fast bowlers tested him with short-of-length deliveries on a wicket that had something in it for the bowlers. The first 22 balls he faced only yielded 19, but the next 38 brought 82. What was most impressive about the innings was that Raina only faced three balls of spin - against which he is usually lethal - and had to get his runs off the seamers; he hit Rory Kleinveldt for three of his five sixes.

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