While the world was enjoying the fortnight of unadulterated fun, Cricinfo's staff was keeping tabs on the players and, at the end, sent in their XI. Andrew McGlashan went through the lists to come up with this team of the best players in the tournament.

Matthew Hayden showed no signs of rustiness as he finished the tournament as the leading run-scorer © Getty Images

Matthew Hayden
At the ICC Awards prior to the World Twenty20, Hayden collected the One-Day Player of the Year award and, despite a five-month break from the game, continued his form in South Africa. He didn't have to adapt his normal approach too much and thumped the ball as hard as anyone in the game. He appeared to be sending Australia into another final with 62 off 47 balls in the semi-final against India, but his dismissal was the turning point. However, he still finished as the tournament's leading scorer with 265 runs at an average of 88.

Gautam Gambhir
A quiet achiever throughout and his superbly crafted 75 in the final left him in second spot overall among batsmen. Often overshadowed by his more illustrious colleagues, Gambhir went about his task in workmanlike fashion. He played second fiddle to Virender Sehwag in blazing starts against England and New Zealand, but his most important innings was saved for the final. On the most sluggish Wanderers surface of the event, Gambhir held India's innings together and ensured they reached a target that proved defendable. Just.

Yuvraj Singh
Produced two of the most destructive innings of the tournament and, unlike Chris Gayle's century, both were match-winning ones. He will be remembered for hitting six sixes in an over off Stuart Broad on his way to a 12-ball half-century in a match India had to win to keep their tournament alive. The shots weren't slogs, and each maximum almost went to a different part of the ground. Following that would be hard, but Yuvraj managed it with a 30-ball 70 against Australia in the semi-final and his celebrations in that match - and latterly the final - showed what team success meant to him.

Shoaib Malik
A captain who led by example, though ultimately he couldn't carry his side to the title, Malik is slowly building an exciting team in partnership with Geoff Lawson. He showed great maturity with the bat, particularly in the run chase against Australia, and rarely reverted to ugly strokes. Considering he took over the captain's job in the aftermath of the World Cup, his early performances have spoken volumes for his character. His offspin provides a useful option and he is a strong fielder.

Misbah-ul-Haq was the surprise package, finishing as the third-highest run scorer © Getty Images

Came into the tournament under huge pressure after controversially being selected ahead of Mohammad Yousuf. But, at 33, he made the most of his recall to end as the third-highest run scorer. He struck a match-winning, unbeaten 66 against Australia, spurring Pakistan to a victory that made them believe they could go all the way. Although his tournament will be clouded by twice falling short in chases against India, his team wouldn't have got close in either the group game or the final without him. How he must wish he could undo that lap shot.

MS Dhoni
In his first significant appointment as Indian captain, one of toughest jobs in the game, Dhoni showed himself to be an astute and charismatic leader who instilled a self-belief in his team to play without fear. He finished as India's second-highest run scorer despite a top score of 45 and played the correct innings for each, except for a wild mow during the final. But we all knew what Dhoni could do with the bat, his leadership skills were less obvious. He brought a relaxed air to the team which responded to his flair and also showed acute tactical awareness, particularly towards his death bowlers in the crunch games against Australia and Pakistan.

Shahid Afridi
It was meant to be a tournament made for Afridi's batting, but it was with the ball that he made the biggest impression. He bowled in an attacking vein, but was rarely taken to pieces. Tellingly, his two most expensive performances came against India, but his spell of 3 for 18 against Sri Lanka was one of the best spells of spin bowling during the two weeks. However, despite earning the Man of the Tournament prize, Afridi nearly lost his place in this XI after his careless batting in the semi-final and final, which completed a disappointing time with the willow as he made 91 runs at 15 (although the strike-rate was 197, topping that list) and Pakistan needs Afridi to contribute with bat and ball.

Daniel Vettori
Although Vettori said he hoped Twenty20 wouldn't detract from the traditional forms of the game, he was New Zealand's stand-out performer with the ball in his first major tournament as captain. He never conceded more than 25 runs - finishing as the most miserly bowler - and consistently picked up wickets, using subtle changes of pace and flight to show that guile has a place even in the shortest format. His 4 for 20 against India, at Johannesburg, was a match-winning spell, while he out-thought Kevin Pietersen.

Umar Gul
Without Shoaib Akhtar, Pakistan needed someone to stand up and be counted. Gul proved to be a revelation, performing a new role as a specialist death bowler in the latter half of the innings to finish as the leading wicket taker. Despite bowling when the ball was meant to be flying to all corners, Gul finished with an economy rate of 5.60 to go alongside his 13 wickets. In the semi-finals and final he produced outstanding spells of controlled swing and didn't deserve to finish on the losing side.

Stuart Clark
After a World Cup where he was a late inclusion and played one match, Clark showed that line and length has a place in Twenty20. He benefited from playing four matches in Cape Town, a wicket that suits his back-of-length bowling, and ended Sri Lanka's hopes with 4 for 20 in the Super Eights clash. But he also showed added variety, including a clever slower ball and a useful yorker. Clark appears ready to fill Glenn McGrath's boots in all forms of the game.

RP Singh
Followed up his impressive performances in England with an outstanding tournament, Singh's displays in the semi-final and final proved decisive. He didn't go for more than 33 in any spell and showed nerves of steel against Australia in the semi-final. Then came the final, with India defending a middle-of-the-road 157 and Singh struck early with the new ball. His 4 for 13 against South Africa, at Durban, was his most lethal spell of left-arm swing and sent the hosts crashing out.

12th man - Morne Morkel
Narrowly missed out on one of the fast-bowling slots, but Morkel's tournament confirmed his potential to be a key figure in South Africa's attack as he collected nine wickets including four against New Zealand.

Andrew McGlashan is a staff writer on Cricinfo