World Twenty20 players to watch - 5 September 11, 2012

Men with points to prove

Brydon Coverdale, Firdose Moonda, Siddhartha Talya, Ger Siggins, Umar Farooq
Part five of our look at players in focus at the World Twenty20 features a number of cricketers with plenty to play for

Sunil Narine
West Indies
Such has been Narine's impact for West Indies and in the IPL in 2012 that it's hard to believe he had not made his international debut this time last year. But he showed his talents during the Champions League Twenty20 and in February was picked up by the Kolkata Knight Riders at the IPL auction for $700,000, despite having played only three ODIs and no T20 internationals at the time. It was a rare occurrence of a young man with a big IPL price tag paying off immediately. Not only did the Knight Riders win the title, Narine was named Player of the Tournament for his 24 wickets at an average of 13.50 and an economy rate of 5.47. This is his first opportunity at a major international tournament and, especially given the conditions in Sri Lanka should help spinners, few players will enter the World Twenty20 with higher expectations on them.

What's he about?
Narine is tougher to read than James Joyce. He spins the ball both ways and varies his pace and length, giving little discernible indication of the changes in his action. In Test cricket he is yet to really make his mark, but such bowlers are invaluable in T20, where batsmen cannot afford to take a cautious approach. It's the reason Saeed Ajmal and Ajantha Mendis are not only in the top ten T20 international wicket-takers but have the best bowling averages among the top ten.

What the team needs
Wickets and economy. West Indies have the kind of batsmen who can set or chase big targets, but restricting the opposition will make it all the more manageable. Narine is the standout bowler in the squad and has to lead the attack. Baffling and dismissing the best batsmen in the opposition is his major task. West Indies deserve to be one of the favourites in this tournament, and Narine is key to their chances.

Big day out
4 for 15 v Mumbai Indians, IPL, Mumbai, 2012

They weren't his best figures of the IPL, but what made this match special for Narine was one key wicket. Mumbai Indians were chasing 141 and were in a decent position at 60 for 1 when Narine's battle with Sachin Tendulkar concluded with an outstanding delivery. The ball turned viciously back towards the leg stump and clipped the pads of Tendulkar, who was trying to cut, and the ball ricocheted onto the stumps. Narine picked up three more wickets and closed out the win for the Knight Riders.

Trivia and stats
Of bowlers with more than 50 wickets in T20 cricket, Narine has comfortably the best economy rate: 5.28

Narine's father named him after Sunil Gavaskar

"The amount of cricket you play game by game [in the IPL], you get experience, and by playing among the world's best and just being able to perform with the best it just gives you the confidence and courage that anything's possible on the cricket field."

Faf du Plessis
South Africa
A product of one of the country's finest sporting schools, Afrikaans Seuns Hoërskool, du Plessis was always destined for success. He played in a first-team with AB de Villiers, Jacques Rudolph, Heino Kuhn, Neil Wagner and Kruger van Wyk, all of whom are international players, but took a little longer than some of them to find his feet. Years in the domestic game groomed him for higher honours but he made a major breakthrough in the 2008-09 season, when he averaged over 60 in the 40-over competition. He repeated the run-scoring in 2010-11, which earned him a place in the 2011 World Cup squad, and he has not looked back since. Du Plessis has now featured in the national squad in all three formats of the game.

What's he about?
An aggressive, all-round stroke-maker, du Plessis is as confident against pace as against spin. He has a sound temperament and good judgement, and is a player who can provide stability and acceleration, depending on the situation. He is also a handy legspinner who could be a genuine option as an additional bowler on the subcontinent.

What the team needs
With Jacques Kallis set to open the batting, South Africa could need a risk-taker to partner him. That will likely be Richard Levi, but du Plessis may be better equipped for the role. With experience and success on the subcontinent, he has the technique and temperament to give Levi competition in the XI. He could also operate as a No. 3 and can perform the role of either an anchor or an enforcer. South Africa have not had someone who can play a pivotal role in their batting line-up in the shortest form of the game, and if du Plessis can fulfil that role, it could prove a key factor in their challenge for a trophy.

Big day out
66 v Zimbabwe XI, Harare, 2012

 Despite finding a regular place in the national ODI team, du Plessis was only drafted into the T20 squad as part of a World Twenty20 preparation series in June against Zimbabwe and Bangladesh. The South African side was an experimental one and lost to both minnows once in the group stages but progressed to the final, where they were once again in trouble. Du Plessis arrived at the crease in the second over with the score on 6 for 2 and had to do a repair job. He was dropped on 12 but went on to score 66 and set up a decent total for South Africa.

Trivia and stats
After being asked to open the batting for the Chennai Super Kings in the fifth edition of the IPL by Stephen Fleming, du Plessis was the second-highest run-scorer for the team, after Suresh Raina.

His only five-wicket hauls have come in T20, both in the 2011-12 season. The first, 5 for 19, came for his amateur provincial union, Northerns, against Easterns and the second, 5 for 28, was in the franchise T20 competition for the Titans against the Lions. Four of them were bowled but the Titans lost the match.

"If you have to ask me where I would like to bat in the 20-over format, I would say I would like to open. I think my batting is really suited for it. The more I've played in that role, the more I have started to understand when is a good time to go and when was a good time to try and sit back."

Harbhajan Singh
A call-up for the World Twenty20 could just be the opportunity Harbhajan needs to win back some confidence and remain in contention for a place in the limited-overs side. He was dropped from the national team after a poor tour of England in 2011, and subsequent injuries didn't help his case. The succeses of R Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha in home conditions means a return to the Test side is a difficult task, though his determination to resurrect his career is apparent from his rewarding stint with Essex.

What's he about?
Once a match-winner for India, and still among their leading wicket-takers, Harbhajan's decline has coincided with the emergence of a more attacking offspin alternative in Ashwin, who first captured headlines with his success in the IPL. Harbhajan, though, brings with him years of experience, and a proven ability to contain. While many thought his exclusion from the team after the England tour was the end for him, he remains assured of his ability but candid about where things didn't fall into place with his bowling. In a squad that includes two other specialist spinners and a series of part-timers, Harbhajan finds himself in a situation where his team isn't short of options. The pressure and scrutiny of this comeback will be of a different order.

What the team needs
A strong partnership with an in-form Ashwin, in which Harbhajan may have to a play a complementary role. He is well-placed to do that, given his knowledge of the conditions in Sri Lanka and experience of adapting to different roles.

Big day out
1 for 24 v Australia, ICC World Twenty20, Durban, 2007

Harbhajan has an impressive record in T20 internationals, with an economy rate of 6.44. He has had superior figures in other games, some of which were lost by India, but a spell of 1 for 24 against Australia played a significant role in India's charge to the final, which they ultimately won. He turned in a tight spell as Australia, with wickets in hand, tried to accelerate their chase, yorking Michael Clarke in the 18th over - it began with Australia needing 30 from 18 balls with six wickets intact - and conceding just 3.

Trivia and stats
Harbhajan is India's second-highest wicket-taker in T20 internationals, with 18 wickets to Irfan Pathan's 20. However, he has the best economy rate in the top six.

He's also India's most-capped specialist T20 bowler, with 23 matches.

"I just want to go and enjoy the game, because I felt during the time out I had forgotten to enjoy the game. Even in the IPL I was under pressure, which came out of my own expectations. I was feeling like I need to lead the side well, I need to perform well to come back into the side. So that probably affected my chances."

Paul Stirling

Stirling has just turned 22, but he has already played more than 50 times for his country since 2008, while establishing himself in the Middlesex one-day team. Despite scoring more Friends Life T20 runs than all bar four others, in fewer games, and making his first CB40 century, Stirling's career path hit a bump in the summer of 2012. The reluctance of Middlesex to use him in their championship team is frustrating for a man who has shown his ability to build an innings in two first-class centuries for Ireland. "He's the most gifted Irish player I've ever seen," says Niall O'Brien. "He needs to realise that and reach the heights that he can achieve sooner rather than later. The world is his oyster and he can do whatever he wants in the game."

What's he about?
"Stirling can do things with a cricket bat that I've never seen anyone do before," says team-mate Ed Joyce, "and the last man I said that about was Eoin Morgan." Stirling's belligerent stroke-making at the top of the order has the potential to take control of a game from the start. But a tendency to make unforced errors means he hasn't gone on as often as he would like to. If he gives himself time to bat, he can destroy a team.

What the team needs
Stirling's early aggression will ensure Ireland stay in touch, and if he can stay around for 12-15 overs, another Kevin O'Brien-style shock could be on the cards. His offspin has come on well too: he took 3 for 21 against Bangladesh recently. He needs to be fit too, as a shoulder injury sustained at the end of July kept him out for almost a month, hitting preparations for the World Twenty20.

Big day out

 79 (38) v Afghanistan, World Twenty20 qualifier final, Dubai, 2012
Having lost William Porterfield first ball, Stirling, his opening partner, might have felt the need for caution, but instead he hit his first three balls for four on the way to a 17-ball fifty. "I think we came out positively," the understated Stirling said afterwards. Coach Phil Simmons had a different view: "It was a knock to be put up there with the Chris Gayles and Virender Sehwags of this world."

Trivia and stats
Stirling's 17-ball fifty against Afghanistan is the second fastest in T20I history after Yuvraj Singh's 12-baller against England in 2007. Stirling's ball-by-ball: 44431044240642161.

His father, Brian, was a leading international rugby referee, officiating in 1994 at South Africa's first two Tests in New Zealand after their return from isolation.

"T20 is a form of the game that suits me, but I'd like to prove people wrong about the long stuff too."

Hamid Hassan

Hassan has returned to the fold for Afghanistan after missing eight months of cricket due to an ankle injury. Before that, he took the wickets of Andrew Strauss and Jonathan Trott for the ICC Combined Associate and Affiliate XI against England in Dubai. He is one of a few Afghanistan cricketers who have earned an international reputation with standout performances.

What's he about?
Hassan is powerfully built, is quick, bowls a tidy line and length and swings the ball both ways. He is Afghanistan's best fast bowler at the moment and probably one of the most accomplished among the developing cricketing nations. Former Afghanistan coach Rashid Latif summed Hassan up: "He is a bowler who is good enough to represent even a full nation in a developed team. He is a thinking bowler and has good control over the swing."

What the team needs
Though he has missed most of Afghanistan's cricket this year, Hassan is still an integral part of the side. His consistency with his line and length can provide the team a fitting start with the ball, and he can pin down opponents with his death bowling.

Big day out

 3 for 21 and 22 (21) v South Africa, World Twenty20, Barbados, 2010

Though his side lost both group matches in the 2010 World Twenty20, Hassan gave them cause for a little smile when he bagged 1 for 8 from three overs in the match against India. But it was the game against South Africa that gave him a lot more, in the form of the wickets of Jacques Kallis, JP Duminy and Mark Boucher - though his side didn't captalise in their chase, where too Hassan chipped in, with 22 off 21.

Trivia and stats
In the 2009 qualifier tournament for the 2011 World Cup, Hasan signed off as the second-highest wicket-taker, with 18 wickets. Though his side wasn't able to qualify for the World Cup, Afghanistan did qualify for ODI status.

"I want to be a future big international cricketer. I want the world to know me, to be famous. 'Look, it's Hamid,' they might say."

Narine by Brydon Coverdale, du Plessis by Firdose Moonda, Harbhajan by Siddhartha Talya, Stirling by Ger Siggins, Hassan by Umar Farooq

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on September 14, 2012, 6:43 GMT

    We love all great players but Hassan is our dream player. He brought such a great honor in field of cricket and sport to Afghanistan. Although he suffered a knee injury this year but he still most complete and fast bowler for us and he will prove it once again.We hope so for a win over India or England in upcoming T20 world cup. Best of luck my greatest Afghans.

  • Prashanth on September 13, 2012, 21:54 GMT

    Guess its time for Harbhajan to take up commentary or do some cat walk in the ramp.....he is an old horse that India relied on without much success expect the first few games against Australia! Its time to forget about him and move on

  • Dummy4 on September 13, 2012, 12:27 GMT

    Hamid Hassan we r proud of u..and Insha Allah you will be an international cricket star....Insha Allah Afghanistan will win T20 World Cup 2012..

  • Dummy4 on September 13, 2012, 8:09 GMT

    @Sports4Youth Ajmal has nothing to prove. he has shown the world that hes no 1.

  • Cricket on September 12, 2012, 15:38 GMT

    Brydon Coverdale, Firdose Moonda, Siddhartha Talya, Ger Siggins, Umar Farooq, IS THIS AN INCOMPLETE REPORT OR YOU GUYS ALSO THINK (like the ICC) THAT SAEED AJMAL IS NOT FIT TO FEATURE IN THIS REPORT ?

  • Azooz on September 12, 2012, 14:35 GMT

    Where do Cros UMAR FAROOQ Tweet?? Anybody

  • Dummy4 on September 12, 2012, 9:31 GMT

    hmmm...yuvi has some points to prove as well to show the wrls he's truly bak....

  • nabeel on September 12, 2012, 8:21 GMT

    Hamid Hassan and Glen Maxwell will be the players to make impact. Hamid has been a standout player throughout Afghanistsn's campaign to the current status. While Maxwell is having big heart, reminds me of Steve Waugh in his early career. He will be a huge plus for AUS in T20WC.

  • Johnathon on September 11, 2012, 20:32 GMT

    Thissara Perera and Maxwell will have a lot of proving to do too. Dernbach may or may not be a key person in England's side

  • Dummy4 on September 11, 2012, 19:20 GMT

    @S.Zaryab Hussain. The headline of the article is "Men with points to prove" This means that they are players who are going into this tournament without having proved themselves at International level. Saeed Ajmal has already proved himself at all three formats of the game. This is NOT a list of the best players at 20/20.

  • No featured comments at the moment.