World Twenty20 players to watch - 2 August 24, 2012

A wicket off his first ball, and 13 sixes in a T20

Mohammad Isam, Firdose Moonda, Andrew Fernando and Ger Siggins
Plenty of record-holders in part two of our series on players who we expect will grab your attention in next month's World Twenty20

Elias Sunny

Having made impressive Test and T20 debuts in his first year of international cricket, Sunny ventures onto the biggest stage of his career. He will be looking for wickets, which will secure his future and ensure that his early success wasn't just a one-off. He didn't go to a sports institute or scorch his way through age-group cricket, learning the game instead at a neighbourhood academy, where he played age-group cricket, and then slogging his way through Dhaka's club scene before finding himself a place in the Dhaka Division first-class team in 2003-04. He has also played for Chittagong, opening the batting at times, but his primary trade has been left-arm spin.

Sunny was on the fringes for a long time, despite good performances, but the national call-up finally came in 2011, after yet another haul of wickets and runs in all competitions, including a back-to-the-wall 87 not out in a one-day final. On Test debut, he took a six-for against West Indies.

What's he about?
Sunny possesses control - as anyone who has plenty of first-class wickets does - but his ability to turn the ball with his round-arm action is his real strength. He is also slow through the air on most occasions but has shown versatility by quickening up the pace when needed. Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim has slowly begun to rely on him as a spinner. However, Sunny will be under pressure to improve his batting skills.

What the team needs
Coach Richard Pybus said Bangladesh won't pick three spinners for the sake of it, but the fact remains that they still rely heavily on their slow left-armers. While Shakib Al Hasan provides balance with his skilful control and Abdur Razzak is the attacking option, there is space for Sunny to be the surprise package by turning the odd ball and providing a key breakthrough.

Big day out
5 for 13 v Ireland, first T20I, Belfast, 2012

Though he played unofficial T20s for Bangladesh during the Zimbabwe tri-series in June, Sunny's official debut in the format came against Ireland the following month. He began with a double-wicket maiden, following up with a wicket in each of his next three overs to become the first bowler to take a five-for on T20I debut.

Trivia and stats
Sunny is the only cricketer to win Man-of-the-Match awards on debut in two formats - Test and T20.

"I have noticed a huge difference between the domestic cricket that we play in Bangladesh and international cricket. Fundamentally for me, it is with the number of bad balls that I could bowl in an over. You can't bowl a single bad ball in international cricket; it will get punished."

Richard Levi
South Africa

Before Levi, the last international cricketer the Wynberg Boys' High School produced was Jacques Kallis. So to say Levi operated in a shadow would be an understatement. It probably helped that Levi was not in the mould of Kallis. Instead of technical perfection, power was his forte. Levi always found himself playing in a team at least one age-group level above his, because he was, in the words of headmaster Keith Richardson, "too good to play with his peers".

A strong showing in the domestic 20-over competition in 2010-11, when he scored three half-centuries for the Cobras, was followed by a good limited-overs campaign the next year. Levi made a hundred and two fifties and averaged close to 50. He was part of South Africa's T20 squad to play Australia in October 2011, but it was only when Graeme Smith was dropped for the series against New Zealand in February 2012 that Levi got his chance - which he took forcefully, as always.

What's he about?
"Stand and moer" as South Africans would say. Smack, hit, bang, crash is the way Levi plays, although he is now learning the softer touches. He is strong in physique and in the mind - which is what he needs to blaze a start - and favours the on side. But he struggled on the subcontinental surfaces when he played in the IPL for the Mumbai Indians this year.

What the team needs
In the past South Africa have lacked a power-hitter at the top of the order in the same vein as Chris Gayle, Virender Sehwag or Shane Watson, if only because those are batsmen bowlers genuinely fear. Levi could turn into one such if he can balance it with the ability to be watchful. Reckless by nature, he may have to temper his attitude to fit into the South African line-up.

Big day out
117 (off 51) v New Zealand, second T20I, Hamilton, 2012

Few will forget Levi's match in the sun. In chasing a modest target of 173 against New Zealand in Hamilton, Levi must have known fortune would favour him when, in the first over, he top-edged Nathan McCullum for six over fine leg. He went on play some of the most outrageous pull shots, and bludgeoned his way into history with the fastest T20 hundred.

Trivia and stats
Levi's century in that match against New Zealand came off 45 balls and included 13 sixes - the most hit in a T20 - and he finished unbeaten on 117 off 51 balls.

"You are not going to score a hundred over 40 balls every time in T20 cricket. The trick is to keep everything as simple as possible, play to your strengths and just watch the ball."

Hamilton Masakadza

Not yet 30, Masakadza has been an international cricketer for 11 years and has played 115 ODIs - the only format Zimbabwe play with some regularity. On the face of it, he doesn't seem to be suited to the shortest format, having built his career on patience. He waited a decade between his first and second Test hundreds, and it was only after the second that he began scoring more freely. Since Zimbabwe's Test comeback in August 2011, Masakadza has been one of their leading batsmen. His form in limited-overs has soared after he clocked over 1000 runs in 2009, and his maturity since then appears to have given him greater intent.

What's he about?
Previously the typical stodgy opener, Masakadza has transformed into a forceful one willing to take the fight to most attacks. His application against the short ball has improved over the years, so now he has the pull and hook in his repertoire, to go along with his drive, which is looking better with every passing year. He has learnt how to start an innings with a view to accelerating, and is now able to provide Zimbabwe with solid but speedy starts.

What the team needs
Zimbabwe are very familiar with batting collapses. A poor start can snowball into a poor innings and even a good start can deteriorate into a shabby end. Masakadza's job will be to keep the blood flowing and provide spine to the innings - two roles he has learnt to combine recently. Although Zimbabwe are led by the creative Brendan Taylor, their young players will need mentors like Masakadza.

Big day out
58 (off 50) v South Africa, Twenty20 Triangular series final, Harare, 2012

A remarkable run in mid-2012 saw Masakadza go into an unofficial T20 tri-series featuring South Africa and Bangladesh in good form. South Africa fielded an under-strength side, and Masakadza had success against them, scoring half-centuries at will. His best effort came in the final, when he survived an lbw appeal and the early loss of Vusi Sibanda to combine with Taylor for a 118-run stand for the second wicket. His 58 gave Zimbabwe a rare win over big brother South Africa.

Trivia and stats

  • Masakadza was the top scorer of the tri-series, with 267 runs at 66.75, including four half-centuries. Second on the list was Taylor, more than 100 runs behind. Masakadza's fifties also formed a run of five innings where he passed the milestone.

  • He has exactly 2000 runs in 20-over cricket to date.

    "I know my limitations and I don't try too many things. For example, I'm not very adventurous in the air. I like to plan my innings a lot and I have a visual image of how I will play each guy in the opposition."

    Shaminda Eranga
    Sri Lanka

    Discovered in an all-island pace competition in 2006, Eranga made history when he became the first bowler to take a wicket in his first over of international cricket in every format. His international career, though, has been frustrated by a recurring nerve-related back injury that has allowed him to play only one Test, three ODIs and a T20 international since he broke into the national side a year ago. Still, those few outings have been enough to make plain his considerable talent. A match haul of 5 for 127 in the Test against Australia may suggest competence rather than brilliance, but those wickets were extracted from a placid SSC surface on which he was the most successful seam bowler on both sides. He has been penetrative in ODI cricket as well, and has lately been the spearhead around whom a formidable Nagenahira Nagas attack have built their Sri Lanka Premier League campaign.

    What's he about?
    Eranga is among the finest swing bowlers in the country, and is perhaps the first Sri Lankan to move the ball appreciably in both directions since Chaminda Vaas. He has also added a well-disguised slower ball to his armoury over the last 18 months, which has proved particularly productive in T20s. His pace has dropped slightly since his latest return from injury, but he is hopeful it will come back in time. In the meantime, his guile, control and movement promise much for Sri Lanka.

    What the team needs
    In Lasith Malinga, Nuwan Kulasekara and the rapidly improving Thisara Perera, Sri Lanka have an adequate pace battery, but they lack a second strike bowler who can ease Malinga's burden by snapping up early scalps. If Eranga can force himself into the side and prove to be a threat with the new ball, Sri Lanka might entertain saving three or perhaps all of Malinga's overs for the death, where he is most effective.

    Big day out
    2 for 38 v Australia, third ODI, Hambantota, 2011

    Eranga's best figures in ODIs came on debut, where he bowled Brad Haddin through the gate with one that jagged back in, before clinging to a return catch from Ricky Ponting, who failed to read his slower ball. He beat both edges too, often and sometimes comprehensively, to mark himself out as a promising talent for a side that has never had enough seam bowlers of his ilk.

    Trivia and stats

  • Eranga became only the 18th bowler ever to take a wicket with his first ball in Tests when he dismissed Shane Watson, but was the second bowler to do so in 2011, after Nathan Lyon.

  • He also has a first-class hundred and a batting average of 25.55.

    "Fast bowlers must be healthy and in good physical condition, and I am in peak physical condition. My ability to bowl fast, my physical fitness and the ability to move it both ways are my strengths."

    George Dockrell

    This will be Dockrell's second ICC world event in two months - he led the Ireland Under-19s in Queensland in August. Although he showed his class there - 1 for 10 and six maidens in a ten-over spell against Australia - this will be an altogether stiffer test.

    He was plucked from the 2010 U-19 World Cup to make his full Ireland debut, in Colombo, aged 17, and won a call-up for the World Twenty20 in the Caribbean two months later. There he took 3 for 16 against West Indies and choked England's middle order with 0 for 19, giving him the fourth-best economy rate in the tournament. Dockrell continued his progress through the 2011 World Cup and has established himself as a match-winning member of the Somerset team.

    What's he about?
    Dockrell's left-arm spin relies on subtle changes of pace and flight, but perhaps his greatest asset is his clear-headedness and refusal to panic in tricky situations. "You saw George's great maturity at the World Cup," said team-mate Ed Joyce. "He was bowling to the best players in the world and was able to hold his own." The Dublin University student is a deep thinker on the game and makes detailed bowling plans before every innings.

    What the team needs
    William Porterfield will toss the ball to Dockrell knowing he will remain level-headed no matter what is thrown at him. With the likes of Chris Gayle and David Warner facing him, Dockrell will need all of that and more. He has increased his wicket-taking rate too, and has the knack of claiming the wickets of the best players. More than anything, though, Cricket Ireland needs him to continue playing in green, which means fighting off the attentions of the ECB so he can eventually lead his country in their long campaign for Test status.

    Big day out
    2 for 49 v India, Bangalore, 2011

    In front of 45,000 adoring fans, Sachin Tendulkar welcomed Dockrell's first ball with a four, but hit just three singles off the next 11. With the first ball of his fifth over, Dockrell tossed it up just a little more and Tendulkar tried to sweep. He missed and the Irish teenager had his prize wicket, to add to that of Andrew Strauss, Ramnaresh Sarwan and MS Dhoni, in his first World Cup.

    Trivia and stats

  • Dockrell is a gifted musician and played lead violin in the Dublin Youth Orchestra.

  • His great-uncle, also George Dockrell, won his swimming heat in the 1908 Olympics, and died from war injuries in 1924. Two other relatives have swum for Ireland at the Games.

    "When you are playing international cricket it doesn't matter what wicket you're on when you are bowling to world-class batsmen. They're still going to punish you if you stray off your line and length. If you put the ball where you want to put it then things are going to go well for you."

    Sunny by Mohammad Isam, Levi and Masakadza by Firdose Moonda, Eranga by Andrew Fernando, Dockrell by Ger Siggins

  • Comments have now been closed for this article

    • Android on June 29, 2013, 18:41 GMT

      Its really impressive debut, congrats for the future is being impressive record, ,,,, gd luck

    • Dummy4 on August 26, 2012, 12:39 GMT

      @rameez: Have a look at Levi's record in county cricket. Personally, i have watched him play a couple of games. My first impression was that he is ruthless, persevering and dangerous against ANY kind of bowler.

    • Mani on August 25, 2012, 14:24 GMT

      @Ahmed Hussain, Thanks man! Some how I missed it earlier!

    • Dummy4 on August 25, 2012, 14:18 GMT

      Interesting array of talents to watch out for in this WC. Left arm spinners seem to be the most successful kind of bowlers for this format. This could probably be true because of the excess of right-handers in sqauds. Rangana Herath, Pragyan Ojha, Xavier Doherty, Van der Merwe, Vettori(if available), Abdul Rehman, Shakib, Yardy etc could play a crucial role for their respective teams...

    • Dummy4 on August 25, 2012, 13:27 GMT

      @LifeWithBoundaries...Sure there's a link under the picture of this article giving you a passage to part 1 of article in blue related links.

    • Mani on August 25, 2012, 3:23 GMT

      Can somebody help me find the part 1 of this list, please? Thanks!

    • Cauldric on August 24, 2012, 15:53 GMT

      Some people are forgetting that the discussion is about T20I (underlined). Over the years Gibs has done extremely well batting and fielding for SA, especially in ODIs. With the advent of T20. I believe that His ODI reputation was a major factor for his inclusion in SA t20I team. His performances however has been way below expectations.

    • Dummy4 on August 24, 2012, 15:40 GMT

      Fix the link to 117 (off 51) v New Zealand, second T20I, Hamilton, 2012

    • Dummy4 on August 24, 2012, 15:39 GMT

      Levi is over rated... All others are good. Hitting one off century shouldn't have landed him in the list. That ground was small and he had his day....

    • Aditya on August 24, 2012, 14:14 GMT

      Eranga and Masakadza are the only worth mentions in this list - Levi, Elias, and Dockrell seem slightly overrated

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