World T20 Top Five March 2, 2016

Old dogs, new format

Veterans who were surprise hits at the biggest show in international T20

Jayawardene signed off from T20 internationals after the 2014 tournament, finishing as the highest run-getter for Sri Lanka © Getty Images

Mahela Jayawardene
Sanath Jayasuriya's reputation as a white-ball destroyer meant Jayawardene's role in Sri Lanka's T20 side wasn't well defined. But his first innings as an opener, in the 2010 World T20, yielded a 51-ball 81 on a Guyana turner, and he followed up with a century in the next game, against Zimbabwe, to put to rest all doubts over his batting position in the format. The golden run at the top continued in 2012, but an uncharacteristic reverse sweep in the final resulted in heartbreak. In 2014, he wasn't to be denied: he walked away with the trophy, and finished as the top run-getter for Sri Lanka for the third successive World T20 as well. He remains the leading run scorer over the history of the tournament.

Dilshan revolutionised batting with his audacious strokes over the wicketkeeper © AFP

Tillakaratne Dilshan
A combination of unorthodox technique and precise hand-eye coordination was key to Dilshan's reinvention of himself as a T20 opener. While the fierce cuts and pulls stayed intact, he revolutionised batting in 2009 with a fine paddle stroke over the wicketkeeper's head. The shot, soon branded the Dilscoop, found its place in cricket's dictionary, and Dilshan finished the tournament as the leading run-getter. It marked his second wind as a batsman, and the start of a purple patch that did wonders for Sri Lanka for the better part of the next three years.

Graeme Swann was miserly in the 2010 final © AFP

Graeme Swann
Small boundaries, flat pitches and heavy bats threatened to reduce spinners to a sideshow, but Swann used his guile and flight to defy the thinking that he was largely a Test specialist. His two wickets against India at Lord's in the second edition, including that of Yuvraj Singh, the wonder of the first World T20, sent the defending champions crashing out in the group stage. Equally impressive was his miserly 1 for 17 in the 2010 final against Australia, which kept the lid on the scoring, helping win England their only global title till date.

Muttiah Muralitharan played a big part in Sri Lanka's run in the 2009 tournament © Getty Images

Muttiah Muralitharan
An elbow injury put paid to his hopes of participating in the first World T20. Ageing body, broken fingers and tired wrists, they said; but he made a splash in 2009, as Sri Lanka stormed into the final. His telling contribution had come in the previous game, where he applied the choke after Chris Gayle's blitzkrieg to send West Indies packing. In the title match, even in defeat, Murali's figures were a respectable 1 for 20 off three overs. The 2010 edition, in the West Indies, was to be his last international T20 tournament.

Jacques Kallis was the highest run-scorer for South Africa in the 2010 edition © Getty Images

Jacques Kallis
T20 looked to have passed Kallis by when he was left out of South Africa's squad for the inaugural world tournament. After some serious rethinking of his approach to the format, under the eye of Ray Jennings, he transformed himself into a dynamic opener, topping the run charts for South Africa in the 2009 and 2010 editions, to go along with his more-than-useful seam bowling, before being dropped. Two years later he was back for the World T20 in Sri Lanka on the back of an impressive showing for Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL in the course of their first title-winning run, in 2012.

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo