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ESPNcricinfo Awards

ESPNcricinfo Awards 2007 T20I batting nominees: Yuvraj, Gayle and Kemp blast away

The inaugural World T20 threw up several performances that made it to our shortlist

Two-timer: Yuvraj played blinders against England and Australia in the World T20  •  Hamish Blair/Getty Images

Two-timer: Yuvraj played blinders against England and Australia in the World T20  •  Hamish Blair/Getty Images

Yuvraj Singh
58 off 16 balls vs England
World T20, Durban

India's openers had got off to a superb start, scoring 136 off 14.3 overs before England fought back, taking three wickets for 19 runs in the space of two overs. When Yuvraj joined MS Dhoni, the innings was in danger of losing momentum. However, the partnership that followed put the match out of England's reach. India had made 171 at the end of the 18th over before Yuvraj exploded in the 19th, bowled by Stuart Broad. Yuvraj dispatched Broad over cow corner, square leg, extra cover, point, midwicket and wide long-on to become the first batsman to hit six sixes in an over in Twenty20 internationals. His 50, off only 12 deliveries, was also the fastest in this format. The 61-run Yuvraj-Dhoni partnership - if you could call it that, for Yuvraj scored 58 of those runs - came off only 16 balls and boosted India to 218 off 20 overs.
Yuvraj Singh
70 off 30 balls vs Australia
World T20, Durban

India's young side had made a slow start against Australia in the World Twenty20 semi-final, losing their second wicket on 41 at the end of the eighth over. In strode Yuvraj, well rested after clobbering Broad for six sixes a couple of days earlier. He got off the mark pulling Stuart Clark over the square-leg boundary off his second ball and continued to send missiles into the crowd, pulling Brett Lee and Andrew Symonds as the run-rate soared. Yuvraj added 84 in 6.3 overs with Robin Uthappa, and 30 off three overs with Dhoni before he holed out to deep midwicket. His 70 off only 30 balls included five sixes and as many fours, and almost single-handedly took India to a match-winning 188.
Brendan Taylor
60 off 45 balls vs Australia
World T20, Cape Town

It wasn't a typical Twenty20 blitz. Taylor's 60 came off 45 runs and included only two sixes. What made it special was, it led Zimbabwe to a hard-earned and historic victory against a power-packed Australia. Zimbabwe's bowlers did a splendid job of restricting Australia to 138 on a slow pitch, but most people expected Australia to still prevail. Taylor, however, stood firm at one end while the batsmen at the other searched for quick runs. He wasn't flustered when Chamu Chibhabha and Tatenda Taibu fell in successive overs, or when the rain threatened to bring Duckworth-Lewis into a tense equation. The situation was getting out of hand with 52 needed off 36 balls, and Taylor responded with two sixes off Brad Hodge. With 12 needed off the final over, Taylor swept Nathan Bracken for four before sealing the victory with four leg-byes off the penultimate delivery.
Mohammad Ashraful
61 off 27 balls vs West Indies
World T20, Johannesburg

Every once in a while, when Bangladesh decide it's time to fell a giant, Ashraful plays a blinder. He did it against Australia at Sophia Gardens in 2005, against South Africa at the World Cup earlier this year, and his 61 at Johannesburg eliminated West Indies from the World Twenty20. Bangladesh had made a poor start, losing their second wicket for 28 after four overs. Ashraful joined Aftab Ahmed and began dismantling the West Indian attack with a mixture of power and cheek to record a 20-ball fifty - the fastest in Twenty20 internationals at the time. Ashraful blasted Daren Powell for four consecutive fours and flicked Ravi Rampaul over fine leg for six. He made the most of a reprieve on 29, dropped by Fidel Edwards, and clouted the bowlers repeatedly through midwicket. His onslaught included seven fours and three sixes and ensured that Bangladesh reached the target with two overs to spare.
Chris Gayle
117 off 57 balls vs South Africa
World T20, Johannesburg

The World T20 needed a grand start and Gayle rose magnificently to the occasion, scoring the format's first century, 117 in the tournament opener against South Africa at the Wanderers. He set the tone by driving the first ball ferociously to the point boundary and then went on to play a wide array of shots, his flicks, pulls and thunderous drives flying through the thin Johannesburg air. His 50 came from just 26 balls and West Indies had cruised to 109 without loss after ten overs. His next 50 was marginally quicker, off 25 balls, and by the time he finished, Gayle had hit ten sixes, twice as many as the previous record for most sixes in a Twenty20 innings. However, West Indies struggled after Gayle was dismissed for 117, and were unable to defend their total of 205.
66 off 42 balls vs Australia
World T20, Johannesburg

Misbah had big shoes to fill, those of Mohammad Yousuf, in Pakistan's World Twenty20 squad. He had choked on the verge of glory after his 53 had tied the game against India; here he came in to bat in another tense situation, with Pakistan struggling at 46 for 4 in the crucial Super Eights game against Australia. Shoaib Malik took responsibility for stepping up the tempo early on and Misbah rotated the strike effectively. But once he shifted to a higher gear too, Pakistan were in firm control. Misbah effortlessly picked gaps in the field and innovated to find the boundary, using his feet to loft over cover, and reverse-sweeping Andrew Symonds for four. With 11 runs needed from ten balls, he landed the knockout blow, hammering Nathan Bracken for a 111-metre six that all but sealed Pakistan's place in the semi-final.
Justin Kemp
89 off 56 balls vs New Zealand
World T20, Durban

A target of 154 isn't particularly daunting, but South Africa had slipped to 45 for 3 after 7.1 overs against New Zealand. Kemp started slowly, scoring only four off 11 balls, before going into overdrive. He lofted Jacob Oram for his first six, over long-on, and clouted five more in his innings, the two over midwicket off Chris Martin being the most punishing. Kemp got to 50 off 42 balls and accelerated spectacularly after that, scoring his last 37 runs off only 14 balls. He ended the match with a huge six off Mark Gillespie over long-on and with five balls to spare.
Andrew Symonds
85 not out off 46 balls vs New Zealand
only T20I, Perth

It sounds ridiculous, but Symonds actually paced himself here. On reaching the crease he was told by Michael Clarke, his captain for the day, to "pull his head in", and he did for a couple of overs, learning about the bowling and the conditions. Three fours in an over off Jacob Oram got him going, but he remained cautious when Adam Voges entered, not wanting to put the young team in trouble by getting out. It didn't stop him hitting big boundaries but it made him think about which ball to smash. Sixes came over mid-on and midwicket, including one to bring up his half-century, from 26 balls, and he stayed there till the end. The result of the mature display was a hefty 85, at a strike-rate of a little under 200, as Australia blasted a match-winning 186.