World Twenty20 players to watch - 4 September 5, 2012

Rookies, vets, and the forever unfulfilled

Andrew Fernando, Firdose Moonda, Abhishek Purohit, Andrew McGlashan, Umar Farooq
More players who have the potential to catch your eye at the World Twenty20

Akila Dananjaya
Sri Lanka

When 18-year-old spinner Dananjaya was named in Sri Lanka's 30-man provisional squad for the World Twenty20, he had not played a single game of professional cricket. When he was selected in the final squad, he had only appeared in four matches of domestic T20, in the SLPL. So rapid has been his rise from obscurity that many alleged political interference in his elevation to the national team. The truth, though, is that he is living every teenage cricketer's fantasy.

Dananjaya was playing tier-three school cricket when he was brought in as a net bowler for a Sri Lanka practice session, where he impressed the captain, Mahela Jayawardene, and coach, Graham Ford, so much that they asked the selectors that he be fast-tracked to the fringes of the national team. Since then, he has earned his way into the 15-man squad through a striking SLPL campaign, in which he took nine wickets and went at 6.36 an over.

What's he about?
Dananjaya's most conspicuous talent is his control over five different deliveries that span the breadth of the spin bowling skillset. His stock ball is the offbreak but he also bowls the doosra and carrom ball, as well as the legbreak and googly. Perhaps more impressive than his variations, though, is the commitment to flight, dip and turn that he has displayed. His poise at a much higher level of cricket than he is accustomed to has also been encouraging, though he will need to work on maintaining his composure under attack if he is to succeed as an international.

What the team needs
Unique bowlers have tended to succeed at T20 cricket, and in the short term Sri Lanka will ideally want Dananjaya to build a formidable partnership with Ajantha Mendis, who has plenty of variations of his own. Neither bowler is indecipherable, but the doubt they create when batsmen are looking for the big shots can be a big advantage - one that will be amplified if both are bowling in tandem. Despite his good run in the SLPL, Dananjaya is still a gamble, given his inexperience, and the selectors will not hesitate to bring in the more reliable Rangana Herath if Dananjaya does not prosper.

Big day out
3 for 18 v Nagenahira Nagas, SLPL, Pallekele, 2012
Dananjaya's best figures in the SLPL came against the eventual runners up on a seam-friendly surface in Pallekele. Angelo Mathews was beaten in the flight by a dipping offbreak that turned to take his off stump. Sachith Pathirana aimed a six over midwicket but managed only to sky a catch to long-off when the ball turned in the opposite direction to what he had been anticipating. Dananjaya had his third victim caught on the square-leg fence, and he might have had four had Kamran Akmal not fluffed a stumping chance.

Trivia and stats
Dananjaya was as shocked as everyone else at being named in the provisional squad. He only found out through a friend, who spotted his name on a news website.

He played six matches in the SLPL and went wicketless only in his first match.

"I have not copied anyone, but my hero is Muttiah Muralitharan. I have watched him bowling from my young days. I have compared my bowling with his and corrected myself."

Stuart Broad

Broad replaced Paul Collingwood as England's T20 captain in 2011, when the team's leadership was split three ways, though he barely had any experience in such a role. It was a bold choice by the selectors but Broad had long impressed the management with his cricket mind. He had become a settled member across the team in all formats since 2008, when he earned a regular place, although pre-captaincy his T20 career included some interesting moments. During the 2007 World Twenty20, he was taken for six sixes in an over by Yuvraj Singh; then, during the 2009 tournament in England, he hurled the ball past the stumps to give Netherlands a famous victory at Lord's. However, he was a key member of England's victorious campaign in the West Indies, and that experience will serve him well.

What's he about?
A combustible character, he has, so far, been able to control himself as captain. He had a stop-start beginning in the job due to injury in 2011, while the broken-up nature of T20 internationals means he has never had long to stamp his ideas on the team. However, he showed considerable nous to lead the team to a 2-1 victory against Pakistan in the UAE, while his control and variety as a bowler make him an ideal T20 operator.

What the team needs
England will look to Broad for calmness under pressure and adaptability in conditions that have traditionally troubled English teams. As one of the main bowlers he will usually have to bowl his four overs. The intense nature of tournament cricket will pose a challenge for him, as will the requirements of field placings and tactics.

Big day out
5 for 37 v Australia, fifth Test, The Oval, 2009
The performance that propelled Broad onto the world stage: he virtually assured England of regaining the Ashes as he ran through Australia's top order, taking the wickets of, among others, Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke and Mike Hussey.

Trivia and stats
Broad was the youngest England bowler to take 100 ODI wickets when he removed Tim Paine at Cardiff in 2010

He is currently England's joint-leading wicket-taker in T20 internationals, with 41, level with Graeme Swann

"I won't lose my passion but I'll be watching my behaviour. Those moments have become rarer and rarer."
When asked about controlling his temper after being named captain.

Rohit Sharma

This is probably the lowest point of Rohit Sharma's international career, considering that, despite some encouraging performances, the talk about him is still of unrealised potential five years since he made his debut. He averages 13.66 in ODIs this year, and his place in the India XI was questioned all through the recent Sri Lanka tour, during which he made 5, 0, 0, 4 and 4. The miserable tour cost him a place in the Test squad against New Zealand. He has been persisted with for the World Twenty20, but will be under utmost scrutiny during the tournament.

What's he about?
Unfulfilled, yes, but there has never been any doubting Rohit's talent. He made his first-class debut at India A level, and his List A debut at zonal level. Rohit is so languid, he makes getting dismissed in the nets look beautiful. He has plenty of backing from the team management; the vice-captain, Gautam Gambhir, even called him the best talent India have ever had. Rohit in flow is a delight to watch; he can play outrageous strokes, both orthodox and unorthodox, is unhurried against pace and unflustered against spin. But how much has Sri Lanka undermined his confidence? He won't have the luxury of trying to rediscover form in the chaos of T20.

What the team needs
India need him to fire in the middle order. His part-time offspin and fielding will be a bonus; Rohit the batsman has to score.

Big day out
79* (46) v Australia, World Twenty20, Bridgetown, 2010

In a match where India were undone by the short ball, Rohit showed there was more to him than grace, pulling several times against an attack of Shaun Tait, Mitchell Johnson, Dirk Nannes and Shane Watson. India had already lost the game, at 50 for 7; Rohit saved them from further embarrassment.

Trivia and stats
Before his recent troubles began, he was Man of the Series in the ODIs against West Indies both home and away in 2011

The six sixes that he hit in his unbeaten 79 against Australia are the second-highest by an Indian in a T20I innings, behind only Yuvraj Singh's seven in his famous knock against England in the 2007 World Twenty20.

"If you do not show the right character and lose your focus there are obstacles which come in your way."

Imran Nazir

A courageous and attractive batsman, Nazir, a veteran of 13 years, has in recent times been getting by on T20 alone. Despite his many unsuccessful comebacks, he is still popular in Pakistan. His reputation as a powerful and clean striker of the ball has kept him in contention, especially in this format. He last played for Pakistan in 2010 and didn't score enough to earn a long run in the side, but he has kept his hopes alive with his blistering form in domestic T20 tournaments, where he has been integral to his team, Sialkot Stallions. This may be his final chance on the big stage, and the selectors have probably told him as much.

What's he about?
Pakistan have tested a lot of openers of late, but they have not found their preferred combination. Nazir still ticks the right boxes. His ability to absorb pressure and play his natural strokes adds to his value. His strike rate (160.58) in domestic T20 is above Shahid Afridi's (156.94), and he is arguably the best opening batsman on Pakistan's domestic T20 scene.

What the team needs
Nazir will be one of the key men in the top order. The selectors want him for two reasons: to guard the cover side with his sharp fielding and ensure the best start with the bat from the first ball. He is the sort of batsman who can make even the toughest targets seem attainable.

Big day out
131 (180) v West Indies, second Test, Barbados, 2000

In his second Test, Nazir struck probably the finest knock of his career, against a sturdy West Indies bowling attack that included the likes of Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh. Without his fearless innings, Pakistan could well have lost the match, which started the day after the Qayyum Report was published, sparking a period of transition and rebuilding in the team.

Trivia and stats
He scored 160 runs against Zimbabwe in Pakistan's last match in the 2007 Cricket World Cup.

He was the second-highest scorer in the inaugural Bangladesh Premier League, scoring 390 with a strike rate of 156.

"I will play it like a do or die, and I know I have to give my best, otherwise I am done. But there is no reason I won't make it, I am fit, more concentrated and enjoying my best form, so I believe I won't disappoint the selectors and the people of Pakistan."

Richard Muzhange

From the town of Kadoma, where his dreams of being an accountant, lawyer and banker were eventually supplanted by an interest in cricket, Muzhange is the latest in a long line of Zimbabwean promise, and his rise coincided with their Test comeback at the end of the 2011. He was identified by the development offices of a programme run by Jameson, included in the Under-19 World Cup squad two years ago, and then became involved with the MidWest Rhinos. Under Jason Gillespie's guidance, he mastered the inswinging yorker and is now on the cusp of an international debut.

What's he about?
Quite simply, the blockhole. Muzhange's speciality is at the death, although he is also used in the middle stages to dry up the runs. He blends self-confidence with skill, always targets toes and stumps, and seldom gets it wrong, although when he does, he can be costly.

What the team needs
A bowler who can keep his head when the opposition is on the charge. Seamers have seldom been Zimbabwe's strength, with the exception of Heath Streak, but they have found a clutch of quicks with a variety of skills to change that. With Kyle Jarvis upfront and three spinners likely in any starting XI, Muzhange will be the important fifth element if Zimbabwe hope to threaten - be it to bowl teams out or tie them down.

Big day out
3 for 24 v Mashonaland Eagles, Stanbic Bank T20, Harare, 2011

The best exhibition of Muzhange strangling a side came in a group-stage match during last year's domestic competition. He claimed the first wicket after the Eagles openers piled on 109 inside ten overs, when he bowled Ryan ten Doeschate. He returned to remove Stuart Matsikenyeri and Peter Trego to rein them in and finish with 3 for 24 in his four overs.

Trivia and stats
He was the second highest wicket-taker in the Zimbabwean domestic 50-over competition in the 2011-12 season with 15 wickets at an average of 17.80.

"Apart from helping me perfect the yorker, Jason Gillespie taught me to give 120% every time I'm on the pitch whether for practice or in a game and to be a professional on and off the pitch. All these things I learnt by merely watching him do his thing."

Dananjaya by Andrew Fernando, Broad by Andrew McGlashan, Sharma by Abhishek Purohit, Imran Nazir by Umar Farooq, and Muzhange by Firdose Moonda

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on September 7, 2012, 3:44 GMT

    @yohandf1984: yes. you may be correct. And also if he gets to play for SL in the world cup, he may be the first schoolboy cricketer to represent SL after a while.

  • Munaf on September 6, 2012, 19:32 GMT

    Like someone said Rohit is longer version(test) batsmen and he is misfit for test. He should be given 10 test match run and if he fails,fire him. His place in ODI/T20 should go to either Tiwary or Chand who are more suited to such kind of format.I think Rahane , Rohit,Kohli,Pujara will make a fab test batting lineup.

  • Ali on September 6, 2012, 16:20 GMT

    again with this non-sense that Rohit has failed ....

    tell me how many Tests has he played ? that's correct : NONE ...

    Rohit has not yet been given an opportunity !...

    Rohit is twice the longer version batsman than he is a limited over player... Rohit has done nothing in the limited over form to deserve a place in India's ODI squad....

    Yet for some strange reason, this poor limited overs batsman's poor (expected) performances in ODI''s for India are used as a excuse for this Excellent Longer version batsman from playing Tests .....

    That is just plain ......(-----) ... I lack for words that will allow this post past the admins ........

  • Rajeev on September 6, 2012, 12:05 GMT

    Rohit is a class player and his talent is never in doubt, consistancy is and his fialure in last series is baffling. Indian selectors took big risk selecting Yuvraj Singh. After such a long battle with cancer, he will match fit, I doubt ? Selectors is short sighted and afraid of taking risk. Yuvraj, Raina are excellent limited over players but not good test players.

  • Wicky on September 6, 2012, 8:48 GMT

    @bruisers,no Sir! D Great Rohit sharma have achievd such height n glory that no othr playr can even think of reachng his stature,dn,t wry about kamran,he would give it a damn to evry bowlr in sl

  • Ben on September 6, 2012, 3:52 GMT

    @Naresh28... Rohit has yet to play a Test?! So he has continued to let team IND down in the short formats. And while he does indeed have class, i dont think the IPL is the true measure for such a thing.

  • Naresh on September 5, 2012, 23:50 GMT

    ROHIT SHARMA prefers ODI/T20 to tests. I believe he can win INDIA the next ODI WC in OZ. In tests he let us Indian fans down with continous failures. One can see his class when he scored the 100 in the recent IPl against top class bowlers.

  • Jay on September 5, 2012, 22:22 GMT

    I think the T20 world cup will be Rohit's LAST shot at limited overs cricket for India. Should he fail, he will be gone. But I won't completely rule him out of India's test future. He's still a sold batsman at no.3. I have watched his innings for Mumbai on several occasions in the Ranji Trophy. He's a wonderful player to watch if there is ZERO pressure on him to score quick runs. Stuart Broad ? Seriously?! He will be hammered in Sri Lanka. Imran Nazir is a decent opener who can score quickly and give Pakistan the good start. Akhila Dananjaya is a rookie who is yet to play international cricket. However, it's nice to see an unknown entity such as him getting an opportunity to represent SL. This is the beauty of domestic T20 leagues like the IPL, SLPL, BPL, BBL etc. And that is also why I am a huge fan of T20 cricket. God bless !

  • Bawan on September 5, 2012, 20:45 GMT

    Srilanka will win.............

  • Munaf on September 5, 2012, 18:01 GMT

    Rohit will rock and prove detractors wrong

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