Well-known stars and young guns both excelled at the T20 World Cup to make it a memorable spectacle.
After four eventful weeks, Sportstar looks at 10 players who made the most impact in the tournament.
The England captain — along with Alex Hales — led the run charts for his team, his consistency paving the way for title glory. One of the premier batters in T20 cricket, Buttler hammered 225 runs in six innings at a strike rate of 144.23.
Statistics and figures aren’t enough to define the impact he had. England failed to get off to a good start, losing to Ireland, but Buttler stepped up to the plate in the must-win game against New Zealand in Brisbane. He scored 73 off 47 deliveries, forging an 81-run opening partnership with Hales to help the team post a big total.
He continued in the same vein as England got off to a roaring start in the semifinal against India. His partnership with Hales of 170 runs made it a no-contest and paved the way for England’s entry into the final.
Buttler impressed with his captaincy too, using his bowlers well while defending totals. The way he handled the likes of Sam Curran and Adil Rashid drew attention from cricket pundits. Buttler also accounted for nine dismissals from behind the stumps, lending further weight to his overall performance.
Jonny Bairstow’s freak injury ahead of the T20 World Cup had opened the doors for Alex Hales, and he grabbed the opportunity with both hands, scoring 212 runs in six matches at a strike rate of 147.22. One of his two half-centuries was one of the finest innings of the tournament — an unbeaten 86 against India in the semifinals.
At a time when most teams failed to get going in the Powerplay, Hales and opening partner Buttler mastered the art: in the semifinal against India, they amassed 63 runs in the first six overs.
Hales got out for a single-digit score just twice in the T20 World Cup. After a shock defeat against Ireland and a washout against Australia, Hales scored 52 and 47 against New Zealand and Sri Lanka to give England a head start ahead of the knockouts.
The Indian team had issues with the No. 4 slot in the batting line-up at the 50-over World Cup in 2019. It was a problem that hurt the side badly in the tournament. The team managed to solve the riddle three years later thanks to Suryakumar Yadav.
In six outings, Suryakumar compiled 239 runs at an extraordinary strike rate of 189.68. India stormed into the semifinal riding on his unconventional style of batting, defeating Netherlands and Zimbabwe in the group stage.
Even though India lost the league-stage contest against South Africa, Suryakumar stood out with a 40-ball 68. He scored those runs against a bowling attack that had reduced India to 49 for 5.
Suryakumar anchored India’s middle-order during the T20 World Cup, and when some of his team-mates struggled to get going, he managed to set a template of his own wherein he took the first few balls to settle in before going for his natural style of play. And needless to say, he managed to stamp his class.
The contest between arch rivals India and Pakistan went down to the wire, with India needing 16 off six deliveries to win. Mohammad Nawaz, the weakest of the Pakistan bowlers, dismissed Hardik Pandya. The next five deliveries were equally eventful: a single, a double, six off a no-ball, a wide, bowled off a free hit (three runs taken), a dismissal, a wide, and then a single. By the time Pakistan’s players could even come to terms with what was happening, Kohli was running towards the Indian dressing room to celebrate a famous victory.
He had scored 82 off 53 deliveries, adding 113 runs for the fifth wicket with Hardik to help guide the team to a four-wicket win. To be sure, Kohli had struck form during the Asia Cup. But questions still hovered over his ability to accelerate. With this unbelievable innings against Pakistan, he hit the detractors for a six and set the tone for the rest of the tournament.
Kohli went on to score four half-centuries in the T20 World Cup, emerging as the highest run-scorer in the tournament (296 runs at an average of 98.66 and a strike rate of 136.40). Riding on his experience, Kohli anchored India’s innings at No. 3, at a time when openers K. L. Rahul and Rohit Sharma failed to delivery on a regular basis.
Sam Curran was in the United Arab Emirates at the T20 World Cup in 2021, following the England team as a commentator — an injury had ruled the youngster out of the tournament, raising questions over his future. He would emerge as the player of the tournament in the next edition of the T20 World Cup a year later, claiming 13 wickets in the tournament, three of which came in the final against Pakistan.
Curran consistently bowled full and relied on his ability to swing the ball. He was Buttler’s preferred choice at the beginning and at the death because of his ability to generate swing.
Curran conceded just five runs in his first couple of overs against Pakistan in the final and got the prized scalp of Mohammad Rizwan. Using the conditions well, he hit the right lengths and finished with three for 12 in four overs to ensure Pakistan did not post a mammoth total. He bowled 15 dot balls, and was the only bowler in the team not to have conceded a boundary.
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Throughout the tournament, he made his presence felt at the death, and he got better after every game.
Glenn Phillips anchored the New Zealand innings time and again at the T20 World Cup.
Phillips is the second player after Suryakumar to score his runs at a strike rate of over 150 (158.26). He scored 104 off 64 against Sri Lanka, a highlight of the tournament: walking out to bat at a time when his team was struggling at 15 for 3, Phillips played the innings of his life to take his team out of the woods. He amassed 201 runs at an average of 40.20, stepping up every time New Zealand was in trouble.
Not many expected Zimbabwe to go far when the team travelled to Australia for the T20 World Cup. The team not only had an impressive outing during the group stage but also managed to qualify for the Super 12s. And it was Sikandar Raza who made all the difference.
A seasoned campaigner, Raza had an incredible outing with bat and ball. He finished as the team’s top-scorer with 219 runs and claimed 10 wickets. The all-rounder earned praise from former Australia captain Ricky Ponting for his brilliant display against Pakistan — he claimed three quick wickets at a crucial juncture, including two in a row. Raza has featured in several franchise leagues over the years and is a regular in Bangladesh local cricket. With him stepping up when it mattered the most, Zimbabwe did have a tournament to remember.
Fast bowler Shaheen Afridi admitted that he rushed a bit to be available for the T20 World Cup after a career-threatening injury. He looked rusty in the opening game against India but got better as the tournament progressed. He performed when it mattered, picking up three wickets in a must-win game against South Africa and following it up with a career best 4 for 22 against Bangladesh in a virtual quarterfinal.
He removed Finn Allen in the opening spell against New Zealand in the semifinal, and made an important breakthrough in the final (Hales). Another injury picked up while fielding in the final prevented him from completing his quota of overs. Had he not picked up that injury, the final may have been tighter.
The Pakistan Cricket Board may have drawn flak for rushing him into the T20 World Cup after a career-threatening injury, but in the Australian conditions, Shaheen made the most of the opportunities.
Ireland fast bowler Josh Little was the sixth man in T20 World Cup history — and the second in this edition, after UAE’s Karthik Meiyappan — to claim a hat-trick. In Ireland’s last group league game against New Zealand, Little dismissed Kane Williamson, Jimmy Neesham and Mitchell Santner off three successive deliveries. Regardless of the result — Ireland lost by 35 runs — Little’s achievement was big, and was appreciated by the fraternity.
Little claimed 11 wickets in the tournament — including seven in first round. He contributed, too, in Ireland’s historic win over England, grabbing two wickets.
Sri Lanka did not make it to the knockout round but spinner Wanindu Hasaranga topped the wickets charts, picking up 15 wickets in eight outings at an economy of 6.42. Sri Lanka reached the Super 12s stage riding on Hasaranga’s seven wickets in the first round. Hasaranga performed well even against the top teams. He remained consistent and was one of Sri Lanka’s successful bowlers at the start and in the middle overs.