ESPNcricinfo Awards

ESPNcricinfo Awards 2012 T20I batting nominees: Higher, highest

The two biggest scores in T20 internationals came in 2012. But the year had better stuff to show still

Abhishek Purohit
Abhishek Purohit
Brendon McCullum raises his bat after scoring a century, Bangladesh v New Zealand, World T20 2012, Group D, Pellekele, September 21, 2012

McCullum: gone in 58 balls  •  Associated Press

Brendon McCullum
123 vs Bangladesh
World Twenty20, Pallekele

McCullum broke a few T20 international records in New Zealand's opening game of the World Twenty20. He made the highest score in T20Is, going past Richard Levi's 117 from earlier in the year, and became the first batsman to score two hundreds in the format. He also showed how to change gears in a 20-over innings without wasting too many deliveries. His knock is the prototype all modern-day coaches would want their batsmen to strive for, but some of the shots he played during it can hardly be imitated. He was the firestarter, anchor and finisher of the innings.
Marlon Samuels
78 vs Sri Lanka
World Twenty20 final, Colombo

Samuels produced one of the finest international T20 innings ever seen, and he did so when West Indies were down and the count had reached about eight. A reader wrote in to ESPNcricinfo's ball-by-ball commentators, asking if Samuels' knock was the 281 of T20 cricket. Lasith Malinga, one of the best bowlers in the format, finished with figures of 0 for 54 (18 of those came off three of the finer sixes you could hope to see). West Indies had been 14 for 2 after the Powerplay and 32 for 2 after ten overs, but so breathtaking was Samuels' assault, never mind the wickets falling around him, that Sri Lanka were too stunned to respond.
Martin Guptill
101 not out vs South Africa
second T20, East London

Two days after missing New Zealand's 86-all-out nightmare in Durban, Guptill came out a fiercely determined man in East London. Nothing could stop him. He had the power, he had the timing, he had the focus, and he clubbed six after six. He needed to find the boundary off the last ball of the game to take his side to victory, and he did, swatting Rory Kleinveldt to the cover rope and moving from 97 to 101, becoming only the second man after Richard Levi to make a hundred while chasing in a T20I.
Chris Gayle
75 not out vs Australia
World Twenty20 semi-final, Colombo

Gayle was starved of the strike early in the World Twenty20 semi-final and later battled an apparent muscle strain, but in between he produced an innings of controlled aggression, Gayle style. He was off strike for inordinate amounts of time, as Australia's bowlers and fielders did their best to keep him away from the batting crease - by the time ten overs had been bowled, Gayle had faced only 18 deliveries. Australia eventually limited him to 41 balls, but those were enough for him to make a decisive impact.
Shane Watson
72 vs India
World Twenty20, Colombo

Watson had hardly given any of his team-mates a chance in the World Twenty20, and he didn't in Australia's first Super Eights match either, where he was the standout performer again. India's attack was monstered for seven huge sixes by Watson as Australia got to 133 without loss. It didn't matter who bowled and where, he cleared the boundary straight down the ground, over midwicket and over square leg, his massive reach overpowering all comers.
Imran Nazir
72 vs Bangladesh
World Twenty20, Pallekele

Rare are the days when Nazir clicks, but when he does, it is quite a sight. In Pakistan's final game in the toughest group of the World Twenty20, Nazir smashed through the qualification door by taking them to 178 - Pakistan's highest successful chase. They needed only 140 to qualify, but with Nazir opening the innings, the debate about whether to begin conservatively and reassess later was a waste of breath. Better to just hammer the ball to all parts. "In one way this is my best innings, because I used my brains," he said later.
Richard Levi
117 not out vs New Zealand
second T20I, Hamilton

A combination of a flat pitch and especially small boundaries at Seddon Park provided the ideal opportunity for a powerful batsman to break a record. And Levi, playing only his second international match, took it. He hit the most sixes in a T20I innings, 13, on his way to the fastest hundred in the format, off 45 balls, and made New Zealand's 173 look at least 50 short of a par score. So brutal was Levi that South Africa cruised to the target with four overs to spare.
Yuvraj Singh
72 vs Pakistan
second T20I, Ahmedabad

As the end of 2012 approached, life was back to normal for Yuvraj. He recovered from cancer, was dropped from the Test squad again, and displayed his credentials as a champion limited-overs performer again. He treated a packed house in Motera to an air-show that included seven sixes. Yuvraj was struck a painful blow to the toe by a Mohammad Irfan yorker early in his innings but recovered well and struck the ball cleanly, with a lovely flourish. Even Saeed Ajmal was taken for three consecutive sixes.
Mohammad Hafeez
55 vs India
second T20I, Ahmedabad

The only innings in a losing cause to make the shortlist. Hafeez, Pakistan captain and not the fastest of T20 batsmen, was a man possessed during the two-match series against India. He delivered a masterclass in the second game, and his wristwork and effortless clearing of the ropes were sights to behold. Hafeez did not seem to brutalise the ball but to will it into gaps with wonderful touch-play. A flat six over extra cover off Ishant Sharma showed his confidence, before his dismissal brought a narrow loss for Pakistan.
Kevin Pietersen
62 not out vs Pakistan
third T20I, Abu Dhabi
After averaging 11.16 against Pakistan in the Tests in the UAE, Pietersen batted right through the England innings in the last T20 match, and underlined his return to form on a pitch where every other batsman struggled. To say that his contribution dwarfed those of his colleagues would be an understatement: the next-highest England score was 17. It was clear early on that it wasn't a 150 pitch, and Pietersen judged he'd best stay until the end than aim too high. He finished the innings with a last-ball six, which ultimately proved the difference.

Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo