World Twenty20 players to watch - 6 September 18, 2012

Three young guns and a wily old spinner

Brydon Coverdale, Daniel Brettig, Mohammad Isam and Umar Farooq
The final part of our series on players to keep an eye on in the World Twenty20

Glenn Maxwell

When Australia's selectors named the 15-man squad for the World Twenty20, Maxwell was the only uncapped member of the group. Having had more than six months to whittle down their preferred T20 squad, it was as if the selectors suddenly decided, what the hell, let's give him a whirl. They had certainly been keeping an eye on him for some time. Maxwell had emerged in early 2010, when he won his first limited-overs chances for Victoria, and much like Steven Smith, he showed promise with both bat and ball without seeming to favour either discipline. It wasn't until the next season, when he blasted a 19-ball half-century against Tasmania, the quickest fifty in Australia's domestic one-day history, that his potential really became apparent. He earned T20 deals with Delhi Daredevils and Hampshire in 2012 and followed that with his initial appearances for Australia in the UAE, where he did not appear out of place at international level.

What's he about?
A destructive No. 6 or 7 batsman, Maxwell makes clearing the midwicket boundary look easy. He scores quickly and rarely appears flustered, which should serve him well in a world tournament. His offspin is handy, but he is not a frontline bowler. However, his value in the field is significant. The captain, George Bailey, has said Maxwell is "one of the best fielders we've got, if not the best fielder in this group". In a squad that boasts David Warner, Daniel Christian, Michael Hussey and Cameron White, that's saying something.

What the team needs
Power-hitting from the lower middle order hasn't always been Australia's strength in T20. If David Warner and Shane Watson can get the team away to quick starts, they need to keep that momentum up, and Maxwell is one man who can do that. He could find himself promoted to pinch-hit higher up the order if the openers have provided a strong start, otherwise he will be required for fours and sixes in the dying overs. Maxwell is also likely to be Australia's second spinner on the turning surfaces in Sri Lanka.

Big day out
56* (38) v Pakistan, Sharjah, 2012

If the selectors had any questions about Maxwell's composure, those were answered in this match. Chasing 245, he came in at No. 7 with 86 runs still required. He played his natural game and, despite losing two partners along the way, steered Australia home with three overs to spare. Such was his confidence that he launched Junaid Khan over long-on for six to complete the win.

Trivia and stats
Maxwell enjoyed a productive T20 season for Hampshire this year, scoring 179 runs at an average of 44.75 and a strike rate of 175.49.

Of the top 50 run-scorers in the Friends Life t20 this year, only Matt Prior and Scott Styris had higher strike rates than Maxwell.

When he scored his 19-ball fifty against Tasmania, the fastest in Australia's domestic one-day history, he had come to the crease with 102 runs needed at more than ten an over. His efforts propelled Victoria to a one-wicket victory.

"I'm looking forward to getting some opportunities in the batting order and looking forward to doing what the team needs from me in the right situations, whether that be quick runs or saving our arses."

Thisara Perera
Sri Lanka

An allrounder of similar promise to his school-mate Angelo Mathews, Perera arrived on the domestic scene in Sri Lanka as a 19-year-old in 2008. Just over a year after he made his List A debut, he was part of Sri Lanka's ODI side, and he has made himself a valuable member of the side in the past two years. Perera has earned contracts with both Mumbai Indians and Kochi Tuskers Kerala in the IPL, and was one of the top ten scorers in the Sri Lankan Premier League this year. Although his lower-order striking is a serious weapon, it is his bowling that he considers his primary function in the team. And while his best work for Sri Lanka has come in the 50-over format, in home conditions this tournament could provide a great opportunity for Perera to explode on to the T20 international scene.

What's he about?
As a batsman Perera is most valuable in a finishing role, coming in in the lower middle order and using his power and timing to pierce or clear the boundary. He can be especially effective in chasing situations and has been compared to Lance Klusener by the Sri Lanka coach Graham Ford. As a bowler, he does not have the pace of some of his colleagues but uses his height to his advantage, nibbles the ball off the seam, and has a happy knack of getting big bags of wickets. He is also one of the best fielders in the squad.

What the team needs
Although Lasith Malinga and Ajantha Mendis will be key weapons with the ball, Sri Lanka will also look to Perera for wickets. But in this tournament he could well have just as much impact with the bat, coming in late and striking boundaries. In the past couple of years it has become apparent that no team playing Sri Lanka feels entirely comfortable while Perera remains at the crease.

Big day out
69* (44) and 2 for 34 v South Africa, Kimberley, 2012

This was a match in which Perera showed the true potential of his limited-overs batting. In a big chase of 300, he came to the crease at 194 for 4, with 15 overs remaining. Though it was his first game of the series, Perera showed no signs of rust and repeatedly dispatched Robin Peterson over the boundary. His fifty came from 30 balls and he sealed the win with eight balls remaining. Perera had also taken two important wickets around the 40-over mark of South Africa's innings, which stopped them progressing to score closer to 350.

Trivia and stats
Perera is the most recent man to take an ODI hat-trick - and the fourth Sri Lankan - having picked up Younis Khan, Shahid Afridi and Sarfraz Ahmed from consecutive balls in Colombo in June.

He was the fifth-fastest Sri Lankan to reach 50 ODI wickets, getting there in his 36th match. Only Mendis, Malinga, Dilhara Fernando and Sajeewa de Silva reached the mark quicker.

"I have been selected as a bowling allrounder so my first priority is as a bowler."

Daniel Vettori
New Zealand

When Vettori stepped away from T20 internationals in 2010, it was done with the understanding that he wanted to keep an eye on the major limited-overs events to come in future years. Eighteen months later Vettori's beard is shaggier, and the attraction of the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka on pitches lending themselves to his artful left-arm spin has proven too much. After a groin injury kept him out of New Zealand's Tests in India, Vettori made a quiet comeback in a narrow T20 victory over MS Dhoni's side, and is now lined up to bring his familiar brand of intelligence and fight to the Black Caps' campaign.

What's he about? Vettori has evolved greatly as a cricketer down the years, becoming a master of subtle variations in line, flight and pace. This has compensated for the loss of some spinning torque, necessitated by a body that has creaked at times with the weight of a 15-year international career. His batting has also been a credit to Vettori's determination, growing out of awkward beginnings to a place where it is arguable that no one in the current New Zealand set-up knows better about how to make a hundred. In the shortest format, however, it is his spin bowling that provides greatest value.

What the team needs
A calm, experienced head and a potent spinning tandem with Nathan McCullum. At times Vettori has been cast in the role of run-miser, as opposing teams have recognised his threat and treated him with respect. His penchant for bowling at difficult times is unmatched among his countrymen. Freed of the burden of captaincy, and on Sri Lankan pitches favourable to spin, Vettori will need to chase wickets in the company of McCullum, while also pinching pesky lower-order runs where required.

Big day out
2 for 11 v Sri Lanka, Colombo, 2009

Ross Taylor made 60 and Jacob Oram plucked a hat-trick, but it was Vettori's admirably tight spell of four overs that went furthest towards handing New Zealand a three-run win over the hosts. His two victims included Kumar Sangakkara, who popped a catch to midwicket.

Trivia and stats
With 35 T20 wickets, Vettori is second to Nathan McCullum among New Zealand bowlers in the format.

Vettori's wickets return has decreased with each World T20 he has played in. He claimed 11 in six matches in South Africa in 2007, four in two in England in 2009, and just three in five in the West Indies in 2010.

"Not being captain takes a bit of stress off my performance, with the fact that I can just worry about myself and hopefully help out some of the younger guys."

Tamim Iqbal

Though one of the world's most exciting openers, Tamim's credentials in the shortest format haven't been up to scratch. But not because he has lacked opportunities. In the three World Twenty20s so far he averages only 14. He hasn't fared well for Nottinghamshire in the format either, with a highest of 47 in 2011. His best performance so far has been for Chittagong in the 2009-10 NCL T20s, in which he averaged over 48. His strike rate in T20Is too has been ordinary. On many occasions he has batted at a faster rate in Tests - he notched up his Lord's hundred at a strike rate of 103. His much-anticipated inclusion in the IPL amounted to nothing after Pune Warriors didn't pick him in their XI. His first innings in the SLPL, however - an unbeaten 93 - gives hope for a better World Twenty20 performance this time around.

What's he about?
Tamim has shown a willingness to adapt and is a quick learner. Having worked hard on his leg-side play, he has also shown that he can counter defensive field settings in Test cricket. As the one constant in the Bangladesh top order, he will be asked to prolong his innings past the Powerplay, though he is capable of blasting a few during the six-over field restrictions.

What the team needs
Having settled for Mohammad Ashraful as his opening partner, Tamim will be expected to play his natural game as long as he can play a big innings. He has all the shots to make up for a slow start, though it is unlikely he will start slow. His recent experience playing in Pallekele will also be handy as Bangladesh play both their group games at this venue.

Big day out
69 not out v Netherlands, The Hague, 2012

Bangladesh had just suffered a demoralising loss to Scotland in the previous game and it was necessary for one of the batsmen to stay at the crease during the 145-run chase against Netherlands. Having been dropped in the first over, Tamim took only a few chances, using his feet against the spinners in the Powerplay. He hammered a few more after crossing 30, and two more boundaries after he had reached his maiden T20I fifty.

Trivia and stats
Tamim holds the record for the highest score in an ODI innings for Bangladesh.

"Personally, I felt happy after the Europe tour. I thought it was a decent effort in conditions which I wouldn't call ideal for T20 cricket."

Javed Ahmadi

Ahmadi led Afghanistan Under-19 in the World Cup plate final against Sri Lanka on August 24 in Brisbane and the next day was part of the senior side that took on Australia in an ODI in Sharjah, a 15-hour flight away. At 20, he is sturdy for his age and has a striking energy. He was third on the run-scoring charts in the U-19 World Cup, making 285 at 47.50. Although he has been in the Afghanistan U-19 squad since 2010, he has also turned out for the national senior side at regular intervals, and has played ten ODIs, having made his debut against Scotland in 2010.

What's he about?
Ahmadi's attacking approach is his defining feature as an opener. He has the tendency to go hard every ball he plays. The off side is his strong area - he loves to drive and compares his batting to former England captain Michael Vaughan, although Michael Clarke is his favourite player. Though he isn't a regular spinner, Ahmadi can add some value with his fingerspin.

What the team needs
For Afghanistan to get a flying start to their innings Ahmadi has to play a key role. They don't have murderous batsmen like Chris Gayle or David Warner but Ahmadi can do the job at the top.

Big day out
134 (111) v Scotland, U-19 World Cup, Brisbane

The captain led from the front, bashing 17 fours and four sixes in his 111-ball knock before he was dismissed in the 38th over. His blazing innings powered Afghanistan to a massive total of 336 - the tournament's second-highest.

Trivia and stats
Ahmadi's 134 was the highest individual score of the World Cup, and he was the third highest run-getter of the tournament.

"Javed is the bright talented lad in the team. He is the future of Afghan cricket."
- Kabir Khan, Afghanistan coach

Maxwell and Perera by Brydon Coverdale, Vettori by Daniel Brettig, Tamim by Mohammad Isam, Ahmadi by Umar Farooq