The adage in sports is that stars win matches. As we head into the 2021 T-20 World Cup, the weight of nations, or in the case of the West Indies, an entire region is on the shoulders of the big stars.
The pressure is on household names like Chris Gayle, David Warner, Virat Kohli, Babar Azam, and Trent Boult. However, winning championships are often due to the efforts of a player flying under the radar.
These players are like x-factors that tilt the balance in favor of their team.
Below I proffered the five intriguing players that I think may decide who wins the tournament.
Number 5- Tabraiz Shamsi
South Africa has been rebuilding their team in the past few years after losing several superstar players. Their strength in this tournament will be their bowling with the likes of Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje.
However, based on the conditions, the most important bowler for their success will be Tabraiz Shamsi. He is ranked as the number one bowler in T-20 cricket by the ICC.
According to espncricinfo, in 17 matches in 2021, he has taken 28 international wickets in this format which is the most in cricket. In 2021, he has recorded a best of 4 for 25, a bowling average of 12.85, and a meager economic rate of 5.53. He will also possess knowledge of the conditions in the UAE with his play in the IPL. He will be a handful to any lineup in these conditions.
Number 4-Evin Lewis
The reigning T-20 World Champions boast several big named stars like Kieron Pollard, Andre Russell, Dwayne Bravo, and Chris Gayle “the Universe Boss”.
However, if they are to make it to back-to-back championships, they need Evin Lewis to emerge as a star on the global stage. Lewis is quietly the most consistent batsman for Men in Maroon in the T-20 format.
Lewis has played 13 international matches in 2021 scoring 384 runs at an average of 32.00. He has scored 3 half-centuries and at a tremendous strike rate of 164.80.
Lewis has improved in every area of his game, and he has consistently laid a platform that allows the bug hitters to finish the innings The West Indies hopes in this tournament will be based on how Evin steps up to the challenge
Number 3-Jasprit Bumrah
The Indian batting lineup is a powerful force that will give every bowling coach and unit sleepless nights to attack. However, if India wins this tournament, they will need their bowlers to deliver on the big stage.
Jasprit Bumrah has been recalled to the team to do just that and to spearhead the bowling unit. It will be his second appearance in this tournament having played in the 2016 version at home. In the 2016 edition, he took four wickets in five matches at an economy rate of 7.65 and an average of 38.25.
Bumrah stakes his claim to be in this team because of his tremendous IPL 2021 tournament. He finished the tournament with 21 wickets in 14 matches. He also brings experience to the squad as India’s second-highest wicket-taker in T20Is with 59 wickets, only four behind the current leader Yuzvendra Chahal.
He possesses an unorthodox bowling action and his top-notch pace cause problems for good batsmen. He is also a reliable bowler in the death overs because of his good yorkers.
Number 2- Liam Livingstone
Ben Stokes has been the star and face of English cricket for the past five years. He delivered a stunning performance in the 2019 World Cup Final to take his team to their first title.
However, this summer Stokes announced he would be taking a break from cricket to prioritize his mental health. Therefore, who could fill the void of the monumental superstar?
It could be Liam Livingstone. He has emerged from the shadows to claim a place in Eoin Morgan’s squad. Liam was tremendous in the ECB’s Hundred T-20 competition scoring 348 runs in just 9 innings at an average of 58.00.
He smashed a remarkable 22 fours and 27 sixes at an average of 178.46. He also bowls a mixture of off and leg breaks which is a plus on the spinner-friendly pitches in the UAE.
Number 1-Glen Maxwell
The Australians have had a difficult year in T-20 cricket. However, they can point to the absence of several stars like David Warner and Steve Smith who will be returning to action in this tournament.
However, the player I think will be the biggest impact in this tournament will be Glen Maxwell. In 14 IPL innings, he scored 513 runs at an average of 42.75. Also, he scored 6 fifties and at a strike rate of 144.10.
Now Maxwell’s challenge is to try to carry over that form into this World Cup for Australia. He will likely be used in the number 4 position in the Australia lineup and ideally after the powerplay overs.
He will play a key role in understanding the pitches in the UAE and adjusting the team’s expectations accordingly.
Readers Bureau, Contributor
Edited by Jesus Chan
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