ESPNcricinfo Awards

ESPNcricinfo Awards 2015 T20 batting nominees: Guptill's charge, and Gayle's retort

The best T20 batting performances of the year include victorious innings in Harare and Lahore

Nikhil Kalro
Martin Guptill drills the ball through the off side, South Africa v New Zealand, 2nd T20I, Centurion, August 16, 2015

Martin Guptill ended South Africa's winning streak in Centurion  •  Getty Images

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JP Duminy
68 not out v India
first T20, Dharamsala

South Africa needed 107 off 61 balls when Duminy arrived at the crease at the fall of AB de Villiers' wicket in the first match of their 72-day tour of India. What ensued was partly responsible for South Africa's limited-overs series wins in gruelling conditions. Duminy paced his innings, picked his bowlers and stayed patient in the able company of Farhaan Behardien, even as the required run rate skyrocketed. Together they brought it down to 66 needed off 30, when MS Dhoni brought back left-arm spinner Axar Patel. Duminy launched Axar for three consecutive sixes, sparking a surge of confidence in the chase. Then, at the start of the penultimate over, with 24 required, he struck a four and a six in succession to effectively seal the turnaround win.
Martin Guptill
60 v South Africa
second T20, Centurion

New Zealand were at the receiving end of the first T20 of the series but Guptill turned things around in the second match, on a citrine-coloured outfield in Centurion. He got the ball rolling with a cut through cover off the first ball of the evening. As the captain, Kane Williamson, methodically scythed through the bowling at the other end, Guptill trusted his occasionally gauche technique, hammering Kyle Abbott for two fours and a six, and launching legspinner Edie Leie's overpitched deliveries for boundaries. From the start of the fifth over, he scored off every delivery save two, and ended his innings with a strike rate of 171.42. New Zealand made 177 and won by 32 runs. It was South Africa's only T20 loss in 2015 after the World Cup.
Anwar Ali
46 v Sri Lanka
second T20, Colombo (RPS)

Pakistan had stumbled to 40 for 5 in response to Sri Lanka's 172. Shahid Afridi struck four sixes in his 45 off 22 balls, but such was the magnitude of the task that his innings provided only a glimmer of hope. Anwar walked out with 66 needed off 35 balls, three wickets in hand, and two overs remaining from Lasith Malinga. Anwar took his time initially, so the required run rate touched 12. However, with 53 needed off 24, he launched a calculated attack on Shehan Jayasuriya, smashing him for two sixes and a four, and followed it up with 10 off two balls in the next over, off Thisara Perera. Malinga brought himself back on for the penultimate over with 20 required, and Anwar treated him with merciless disdain, heaving 12 runs in three balls to kill the game. His 46 off 17 balls had come at a strike rate of 270.58 - the highest for a 40-plus score by a Pakistan batsman in a T20I and the fifth-highest overall.
Moeen Ali
72 not out v Australia
Only T20, Cardiff

Moeen combined with Eoin Morgan to produce one of the finest counterattacking partnerships in T20I history to kick in the teeth an Australian team struggling after an Ashes loss. Evidence of England's T20 firepower was on show in Cardiff when Moeen was floated up to No. 3 and asked to continue to play their new and popular "brand of cricket". Pat Cummins had removed the England openers - Jason Roy and Alex Hales - in the space of four balls and Australia seemed in control before Moeen resurrected the innings. With the score at 43 after eight overs, he went after debutant Marcus Stoinis, and later legspinner Cameron Boyce, hitting two sixes and a four to leg - all calculated strokes with the short boundary in mind. He stayed unbeaten to guide England to 182, a score they defended by five runs in a thrilling encounter.
Mukhtar Ahmed
83 v Zimbabwe
first T20, Lahore

Mukhtar celebrated international cricket's return to Pakistan after over six years in style, smashing the sixth-highest score for Pakistan in T20Is. Under scoreboard pressure, his boundary-laden 83 helped Pakistan romp to the target with three balls to spare. Mukhtar set the tone for the chase with a boundary off the first ball, and the rest of the Powerplay belonged to him too. He pummelled Chris Mpofu for four consecutive fours in the third over, and Brian Vitori for three in the following one. After six overs, Mukhtar had scored 47 of Pakistan's 71. The rest of the chase was a stroll for Mukhtar, who found the boundary as he pleased, and he hit a huge six to bring up his fifty. He and Ahmed Shehzad put on an opening stand of 142 - Pakistan's joint highest for the first wicket in a T20.
Rohit Sharma
106 v South Africa
first T20, Dharmasala

Not many centuries end up in losing causes in T20Is. Rohit did all he could in the first T20I in Dharamsala, but a sensational chase won it for South Africa. He was forced to take his time and assess the conditions after Shikhar Dhawan's early dismissal, but once he did, South Africa were left watching a masterclass in clean hitting. He found runs with crisp strokeplay in the Powerplay, scything boundaries through packed infields with enviable precision. In the 10th over, on 47, he ramped Kyle Abbott for two fours with mesmerising control, either side of the keeper. He caressed a pacy, good-length delivery from Kagiso Rabada over the long-off boundary and got to his hundred - India's second in T20Is - with a punched six over long-off in the 15th over. His 106 was the third-highest score in a T20I by a batsman whose side lost the game.
Chamu Chibhabha
67 v India
second T20, Harare

Chibhabha made his best score to lead Zimbabwe to their maiden T20I win against India. On a sluggish surface, Zimbabwe's score of 145 for 7 seemed a middling total at the break, but Chibhabha's innings proved to be the difference between the sides. He played second fiddle to Hamilton Masakadza's pyrotechnics but ensured his own strike rate was fairly high, making use of the width on offer to exploit the point boundary repeatedly. Wickets fell around him as big shots found fielders, but Chibhabha made use of some poor bowling by blending simple cricket shots with exemplary timing on a wearing pitch, a tactic no other batsman was able to replicate in the series with as much ease as Chibhabha displayed. His 67 was the only 50-plus score of the series and the first by a Zimbabwe batsman against India in T20Is.
Morne van Wyk
114 not out v West Indies
third T20, Durban

Battered and bruised after two sensational chases by a power-packed West Indies batting line-up, South Africa were sent in to bat in the third T20 in Durban not knowing how much was enough. Van Wyk had 21 runs from the previous two games, but as the series moved to Kingsmead, a ground where he has played most of his cricket for Dolphins, South Africa finally exhibited their own T20 might. Van Wyk started slowly before laying into Andre Russell in the fourth over, clearing the short square boundaries with relative ease before repeating the dose in the next over. South Africa were screaming along at more than 10 runs per over after the Powerplay, van Wyk picking certain pockets of the ground and peppering them regularly. He raced to 99 with six balls to spare before plucking a single to become the second wicketkeeper to score a T20I hundred. And he didn't let up after, clobbering two sixes to ensure South Africa capitalised on on their strong start. They won by 69 runs.
Chris Gayle
90 v South Africa
second T20, Johannesburg

The Wanderers has been the scene for breathtaking individual performances and implausible chases for some time now. Gayle played the lead role in one such match - a world-record T20 chase. The hosts looked set for a series-levelling win when Faf du Plessis' 119 took South Africa to 231, but West Indies boasted a team that du Plessis termed superhuman. Gayle laid into Kyle Abbott's second over by forcing him to bowl in his areas and taking him for 22 with incredible muscular strength. The Powerplay yielded a staggering 86. Enter spin, but with Gayle's power and brute force it was dispatched with ease, sixes going increasingly further each time. By the time he was done, Gayle had clobbered and pummelled nine fours and seven sixes in 41 balls to race to 90. He added 152 in 71 balls with Marlon Samuels as West Indies strolled to the record with four balls to spare.
Chris Gayle
77 v South Africa
first T20, Cape Town

Gayle's retort to Clive Lloyd's complaint of T20s having messed up West Indies cricket was a whirlwind, cataclysmic 31-ball 77 that gave his side a comfortable 1-0 lead in the series. His blitzkrieg was so significant that a middle-order stutter, which yielded 21 runs in 25 balls for four wickets, had absolutely no impact on the direction of the game. Picture this: Gayle had clawed his way to 1 off six balls before smoking 52 off his next 11 to make West Indies' fastest fifty and joint second fastest overall. Kagiso Rabada woke the beast up with a bouncer that sailed over the keeper, and then Gayle devoured him, taking five successive boundaries off the hapless youngster. Wayne Parnell was not spared either. Gayle hit him for four consecutive boundaries in the last over of a Powerplay that produced 78. At that point, West Indies needed 88 more, and so Gayle bided his time before thrashing Imran Tahir for three sixes in five balls, after which he was dismissed attempting the one stroke he wanted to add to his arsenal - the reverse sweep.
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