WT20 : Group 1 Super 10s Preview, ICC World T20
Captain: Asghar Stanikzai
Gulbadin Naib is one of the crucial cogs in Afghanistan’s machinery. In the team’s recently concluded One-Day International series against Zimbabwe, Naib was instrumental in helping Afghanistan clinch the series, with 82 not out off just 68 deliveries when they were chasing 249. Naib’s strike-rate in the shortest format looms around the 130s, an impressive number. He is a useful bowler as well and his contribution in the field will be critical in Afghanistan’s plans.
Rashid Khan, who is only 17 years old, will be the youngest player in the ICC World Twenty20 2016. Debuting only in October last year, Khan has been impressive for Afghanistan, especially in the series against Zimbabwe. Relatively new to the format, in the seven matches that he has played, Khan has picked up eight wickets with his legspin, giving away 193 runs at an average of 24.12 and with an economy of 7.14. Khan made it to the Afghanistan senior squad after notable performances against Zimbabwe and in the ICC U-19 World Cup earlier this year. He followed that up with sterling shows in the Asia Cup qualifiers, with 3 for 25 in four overs against UAE and 3 for 10 in three overs against Hong Kong.
Form: W4, L1
Quote: “They are talented cricketers who hit the ball hard; attacking players who could really hurt the senior teams. Hopefully we will surprise a few teams but we have to be realistic too.” – Peter Ferguson, the Afghanistan assistant coach.
Captain: Eoin Morgan
Coach: Trevor Bayliss
Eoin Morgan, who took over as England Twenty20 International captain in December 2012 for the series in India, which ended 1-1, has been as well-rounded a short-format batsman as they come. In his last five T20I innings before the series in South Africa, he had scores of 71, 74 and 45 not out. And that average of 30.59 and strike rate of 133.02 puts him up there among the best in the format. As captain, he is calm and tactically astute, something that is often glossed over in the haze of fours and sixes in T20Is, and in a team of swashbucklers, Morgan is the expert finisher.
Sam Billings is not yet 25, and has had only a moderate time in top-drawer limited-overs cricket since making his One-Day International and T20I debuts in the series against New Zealand at home in June 2015. He is an all-round sportsman, who plays rugby, football and tennis. He skipped a trial with Tottenham Hotspur because he wanted to concentrate on cricket, and what a good decision that was for England, which has found one for the future in Billings – a quick-scoring batsman and a brilliant fielder/wicketkeeper.
Form: W3, L2
Quote: “The team does have the quality and the depth. When I say depth, you have Moeen Ali coming in at No. 8. Ben Stokes – he has performed incredibly well over the past year and when you look at his performance you could easily say he is one of the better all-rounders in world cricket today. He has been very, very special.” – Viv Richards.
Captain: Angelo Mathews
Coach: Graham Ford
Angelo Mathews is a batsman who can adapt to any situation and is also one of Sri Lanka’s frontline bowlers. Apart from his contributions in both departments, Mathews is also an able leader and is the face of Sri Lankan cricket’s next generation. Mathews made his T20I debut in 2009 and has played 62 matches since, scoring 862 runs and picking up 33 wickets.
Lahiru Thirimanne provides invaluable stability to Sri Lanka’s top order. His forte has been Test cricket but he has also earned his place in a dynamic batting order in the shortest format. He is an opening batsman as such but also plays the role of a floater according to the team’s needs. His T20 numbers might not be among the best, but Sri Lanka will know the value he adds to the line-up.
Form: W1, L4
Quote: “Sri Lanka might not be going well now but the team will bounce back. I have seen Sri Lanka cricket for many years, Sri Lanka always bounce back. They have quality players and hope they’ll do well in the World T20.” – Chaminda Vaas.
Captain: Darren Sammy
Coach: Phil Simmons
Andre Russell‘s T20I numbers may be modest – 219 runs at 11.52 and 11 wickets at 48.9 from 35 games – but Russell, now nearly 28, has been a bonafide star for several T20 franchises around the globe. This year alone, he has helped inspire Sydney Thunder to the Big Bash League title, and Islamabad United to the top rung of the inaugural Pakistan Super League. A canny seam bowler with clever changes of pace, Russell can also belt the ball a fair distance. This could be the tournament in which he shows off his qualities on the big stage.
Carlos Brathwaite made his T20I debut in October 2011, at the age of 23, but had to wait four more years for his next cap. A spirited showing on the Test tour of Australia at the turn of the year then pushed him into contention. He made valuable runs in the lower order, and his bowling ability means that West Indies has yet another all-round option in a format where that can be priceless.
Form: W3, L2
Quote: “I hope they can pick the best possible team because if they do, every other nation will be worried.” – Brian Lara.
Captain: Faf du Plessis
Coach: Russell Domingo
AB de Villiers is the greatest batsman in the modern game, by common consensus, especially among his peers and rivals. He has hit a 31-ball century in ODIs – and the mind boggles when you think of the limitless range he can bring into play in a T20I. Of late, he has started to come up the order for South Africa, giving him the most time to make use of the 20 overs at the team’s disposal. If the elements fall in place, there is no bowler or force on earth that will be able to stop a rampaging AB, and he is among the very few candidates in world cricket who can be burdened with the task of winning a global tournament for his team by himself.
Kagiso Rabada came to attention during the ICC Under-19 World Cup in 2014, the searing pace on the flat pitches of Dubai marking him out as one of those most likely to make the transition to international cricket. Rabada has proven observers right, and quite spectacularly too. A natural athlete, the 20-year-old can hustle the best of batsmen with his pace, while his accuracy means runs are never easy to come by. Most important of all, he strikes often, giving his team the breakthrough more often than not. With Dale Steyn spending a lot of time on the sidelines due to injuries in recent months, Rabada has stepped up to fill the breach magnificently. With Steyn now back, the young turk will only benefit more by bowling alongside his idol.
Form: W2, L2
Quote: “We’ve got a chance. We are one of the most consistent sides in this format. We can go there very confident. We have prepared very well. We have some of the best players in the world. We’ve got a seriously good side. We’ll be there and thereabouts.” – Russell Domingo.