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ESPNcricinfo's writers, who were at the World Twenty20, pick their best XIs and explain their choices
October 8, 2012
Features : Marauding McCullum, vicious Watson and other World T20 specials
Features : Short, quick tournament for short, quick format
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Features : Top billing, bottom drawer
Series/Tournaments: ICC World Twenty20
Sambit Bal's picks
Twenty20, I have always believed, is a game for specialists. Because every over is crucial and because a match can change course in a matter of balls, a team must employ at all times players capable of taking charge. So if you can bowl a bit and bat a bit, and do a job on the field, get yourself another job. I am looking for only match-winners.
The openers pick themselves. Both Shane Watson and Chris Gayle failed in their final matches, but who'd dare keep them out? Between them they scored nearly 500 runs at 150, and hit 31 sixes. If they got going together, fielders could actually relax - the crowd would be busy catching. Behind them are the men of silk and style. Both have been pushed down a slot, but Mahela Jayawardene and Virat Kolhi can purr as well as vroom, and have the technique to find runs on tough pitches.
Marlon Samuels would have been a serious candidate even before the final, but after that innings he just saunters in. That he can give a couple of overs of fast spin, though I would be loath to bowl him, gives him a few more points. Not considering Kieron Pollard is personal choice, and Michael Hussey, in this case is far more versatile cricketer. The wicketkeeper was a tough choice, and I did consider MS Dhoni before settling for Brendon McCullum. He doesn't like batting lower down these days, but he has the goods to deliver at No. 7.
For bowlers, their batting wasn't even a consideration. Lasith Malinga wasn't in the list even before the final because he is no longer the trustworthy match-winner he used to be. Mitchell Starc was the most impressive new-ball bowler of the tournament, both miserly, and attacking. Umar Gul was certainly an option, but I went for Steven Finn's wicket-taking ability both at the top and at the death. Tall bowlers are always tough to get away, and they get wickets out of nowhere.
There was hardly a doubt about the spinners. Greame Swann and R Ashwin did the job for their teams, but Saeed Ajmal and Sunil Narine were the best spinners of the tournament. If you can't pick them, you can't hit them.
And yes, I still trust Jayawardene to lead.
The XI: Chris Gayle, Shane Watson, Mahela Jayawardene (capt), Virat Kohli, Marlon Samuels, Michael Hussey, Brendon McCullum (wk), Mitchell Starc, Saeed Ajmal, Sunil Narine, Steven Finn
David Hopps' picks
Shane Watson has surely been the most valuable player of World Twenty20. Jot him down as an opener and, as he consistently gave Australia devastating starts with his medium pace, he immediately provides the balance that all teams crave.
To gain that balance, a batsman-keeper is also essential and, although Kumar Sangakkara came into contention, I wanted somebody with the power to bat at No. 7. I was tempted by Brendon McCullum, who had a fine tournament for New Zealand, but subcontinent pitches eventually swung it for MS Dhoni.
Dhoni will not captain, though, or for that matter have any say in team selection. The captaincy goes to Mahela Jayawardene, whose relaxed approach and wise counsel drew out the best from his Sri Lankan side. His lending of the captaincy in the final Super Eights game against England to Sangakkara to escape a potential overrate ban was a bit cheeky, but I can't get that annoyed about it; he retains my vote.
Jayawardene will have to bat at No. 3, though, to allow Chris Gayle to open with Watson. No batsman has such an obvious capability to wreak destruction. In the middle order, I have preferred Virat Kohli, India's next superstar, and Eoin Morgan, who likes games to be set up for him and who should have a better chance with this XI than he did with England. Michael Hussey's immense knowledge of his own game and ability to manage the most pressurised situation was used by Australia at No. 3, but in this side he can revert to No. 6, where he has batted before. Nasir Jamshed was the young player I omitted with reluctance.
That only leaves four specialist bowlers, with Gayle and Watson having to make up the fifth bowler - a vulnerability that opponents will have to punish if they are to have a chance of winning. Lasith Malinga, in front of his home crowd, and a left-armer, Mitchell Starc, who had a good tournament for Australia, get the new ball ahead of Dale Steyn and Steven Finn. Spin is left with the Pakistan pair of Saeed Ajmal and, for the sake of debate, Raza Hasan.
The XI: Shane Watson, Chris Gayle, Mahela Jayawardene (capt), Virat Kohli, Eoin Morgan, Michael Hussey, MS Dhoni (wk), Mitchell Starc, Raza Hasan, Saeed Ajmal, Lasith Malinga
Andrew Fernando's picks
The trouble with picking batsmen from a Twenty20 tournament is that the men in the middle order rarely get the opportunity to make big contributions. Twelve of the tournament's top 13 run-scorers bat in the top three, and I've given in to sheer weight of numbers and stacked my top six with three openers and two No. 3s. Mahela Jayawardene and Marlon Samuels are batting slightly out of position (although Jayawardene did bat at first drop in the group stage), while Brendon McCullum has been sent way down the order because he was once a good finisher.
I had toyed with the idea of leaving Chris Gayle out of my XI before he proved me a fool by treating Australia's attack like a piñata that had made a move on his sister. He is also in charge of the music on the team bus.
Shane Watson's inclusion is obvious and Jayawardene has made vital runs for Sri Lanka, quite apart from being the best captain on show for much of the tournament. Virat Kohli appeared to be batting in a different match from most of his team-mates, and Samuels muscles out Luke Wright with an incredible innings in the final. Staggeringly, Umar Akmal was the closest thing to a consistent finisher and McCullum takes the gloves ahead of Kumar Sangakkara who had a forgettable tournament behind the stumps.
Sunil Narine's three-ball sequence to bowl Ed Joyce around his legs was among the highlights of the tournament and, over the past three weeks, Narine has proved he has more strings to his bow than just mystery. West Indies team-mate Ravi Rampaul achieved quietly, but delivered a stunner to dismiss Tillakaratne Dilshan in the final. Ajantha Mendis also bowled his way into the XI in the final, while his team-mate, Lasith Malinga, bowled his way out of it.
The XI: Chris Gayle, Shane Watson, Mahela Jayawardene (capt), Marlon Samuels, Virat Kohli, Brendon McCullum (wk), Umar Akmal, Ravi Rampaul, Sunil Narine, Mitchell Starc, Ajantha Mendis
Abhishek Purohit's picks
The presence of Shane Watson and Chris Gayle in the XI pushes Luke Wright down to No. 3. Virat Kohli and Nasir Jamshed were considered for the slot, but the freedom with which Wright batted - he has the highest strike-rate in the XI - puts him ahead of the duo. Mahela Jayawardene is the overwhelming choice to lead the side, but he bats at No. 4, a position which he is not unfamiliar with at all. Marlon Samuels' epic 78 in the final confirms his place, while the experience and adaptability of Michael Hussey is handy at No. 6, though he didn't bat at that position for Australia in the tournament.
The choice of a wicketkeeper who could score quickly at No. 7 was difficult, as most of them now bat up the order. Brendon McCullum makes it for having batted that low down the order before. Both Mitchell Starc and Steven Finn were impressive in foreign conditions, and fill the fast-bowling slots ahead of other contenders. It is very hard to leave out one of Saeed Ajmal, Sunil Narine and Ajantha Mendis. Ajmal and Narine make it for being consistently miserly through the tournament. As many as four batsmen are capable of filling in the fifth bowler's quota.
The XI: Shane Watson, Chris Gayle, Luke Wright, Mahela Jayawardene (capt), Marlon Samuels, Michael Hussey, Brendon McCullum (wk), Saeed Ajmal, Sunil Narine, Steven Finn, Mitchell Starc
Jarrod Kimber's picks
Picking mythical teams is a pretty pointless pursuit, kind of like part-time offspin. I was at a lot of the World T20, and I remember a few of the matches. At the end of the day I didn't pick Ajantha Mendis over Sunil Narine or Saeed Ajmal because I think he's mentally weaker and only good if you can't pick him (hello West Indies and Zimbabwe) and rotten if you can't (New Zealand and England). He had a better tournament I suppose, if three games against two teams makes it a good tournament. But my team he is fighting off a horde cricketing ghouls, and I think they can pick him.
I picked Mitchell Starc mostly because I have this theory that left-arm bowlers are scientifically designed to be better in T20. There is no actual team of cricketing ghouls, it's mostly in my head, but if there was, they might struggle with left-arm pace.
This whole exercise is just designed to get readers really angry (as is much of ESPNcricinfo), so I really should have picked Rohit Sharma over Virat Kohli, or just not picked an Indian at all. On stats I could have justified it, but Kohli was the bee's knees when I saw him, and I'm picking him in this team. Rohit Sharma is my 12th man.
Chris Gayle, Marlon Samuels and Shane Watson are probably in everyone's teams, as is Luke Wright, but I am bucking that disturbing trend.
Nasir Jamshed is in the side mostly because I like him and when he batted well Pakistan looked like they could win the tournament. Dale Steyn is in the side because he deserves special treatment for having to carry South Africa. Michael Hussey beat Ross Taylor because although I think Taylor is the most complete T20 batsmen in world cricket, he couldn't win against the West Indies, and I think in the same situation Hussey would have. Kumar Sangakkara is in because, I don't know … as wicketkeeper and last-minute captain if needed. Maybe I have unresolved Brendon McCullum issues.
I have picked two captains, George Bailey and Darren Sammy, both in the non-playing roles their critics despise.
The XI: Shane Watson, Chris Gayle, Marlon Samuels, Nasir Jamshed, Virat Kohli, Kumar Sangakkara, Michael Hussey, Saeed Ajmal, Sunil Narine, Mitchell Starc, Dale Steyn
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