T20I XI of the Year, 2021

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01 Jan 2022 | 08:24 AM
authorShubh Aggarwal

T20I XI of the Year, 2021

Here is an XI acknowledging the best performers in T20 internationals in 2021

The return of the T20 World Cup gave relevance to T20Is in 2021. It was also a breakthrough year for many emerging cricketers, who made it to the T20I XI of the year. There are some thought provoking inclusions too, partly due to the tougher roles associated to this volatile format. In such cases, weightage is assigned to the World Cup performances.

Mohammad Rizwan (wk)

(Innings 26, Runs 1326, Average 73.7, Strike-Rate 134.9, 50s/100s 12/1)

The Pakistan wicketkeeper batsman started the year ranked 157th in the T20I rankings. He ended it at the number one position in the format. As astonishing as it sounds, Rizwan’s surge is a testimony to his skills coupled with a consistent run at the opening slot. He started his exquisite run in February, slamming his maiden T20I hundred against South Africa in Lahore. 

Overall, 13 out of his 26 innings were beyond 50, most of them at a healthy strike-rate of 140-plus. That is the consistency you want in your opener. Rizwan’s tally of 1326 runs was comfortably the highest. It is a record in T20 history, crowning him the only batsman to amass over 1000 runs in the format in a calendar year. 

Jos Buttler (c)

(Innings 14, Runs 589, Average 65.4, Strike-Rate 143.3, 50s/100s 5/1)

Jos Buttler is the boss in white-ball cricket. In T20s, he rose in authority as an opener. He played a number of masterclasses ton 2021. His unbeaten 83 in Ahmedabad and 71 not out in Dubai dismantled India and Australia respectively. But it was a masterful 101* against Sri Lanka that confirmed his status as an all-time great in the format. 

Buttler displayed how to construct a T20 innings on a tough pitch, scoring his first fifty in 45 balls. The latter half of his innings came in only 22 balls where he reached his hundred with a last ball six. The only hundred of the World Cup, it was arguably the innings of the tournament, not only by quantity of runs but also quality of them on a tough surface. With his vice-captaincy credentials, he is elected as the captain of this side. 

Mitchell Marsh

(Innings 21, Runs 627, Average 36.9, Strike-Rate 129.8, 50s/100s 6/0)

Mitchell Marsh struck a purple patch that has elevated his stocks in international cricket. Star players opting out of the ten T20Is in West Indies and Bangladesh provided many fringe players an opportunity to have a last crack at Australia’s T20 World Cup squad. Marsh was the only one to grasp his chance as everyone else around him fell like ninepins.

In the second half of the year alone, Marsh clobbered 560 runs, striking at 130.8. There were six fifties, but none more important than the 77 not out in the World Cup final. Guiding Australia to their maiden T20 title, Marsh has become the apple of the eye for his native fans again. Marsh also picked 8 wickets in 2021 at an economy of 7.4.

Aiden Markram 

(Innings 18, Runs 570, Average 43.9, Strike-Rate 148.8, 50s/100s 6/0)

Much like Marsh, Aiden Markram has also built his T20 career in 2021. Except, being an opener, he did while batting in the middle-order. Markram batted eight out of his 16 innings at number four, averaging 38.9 at a strike-rate of 141.2. These are excellent numbers that would for even as an opener. He achieved it with excellent stroke play against spin - average 40.5, strike-rate 141.3.

On tacky wickets in the T20 World Cup, Markram mustered 162 runs averaging 54. His part-time spin and excellent fielding expertise make him an obvious pick in this side.

Liam Livingstone

(Innings 8, Runs 236, Average 33.7, Strike-Rate 177.4, 50s/100s 0/1)

You won’t find Liam Livingstone in the top 50 run scorers of the year but there are not many middle-order batsmen who average 33.7 at a strike-rate of 177.4. Livingstone has a comparatively low sample size of eight innings but smashed the ball enough. His 103 off only 43 balls is only the second hundred from a batsman batting at five or below in T20Is involving Test playing nations. He is a trademark number five who will be tasked to finish the innings alongside…

David Miller

(Innings 15, Runs 377, Average 47.1, Strike-Rate 149.6, 50s/100s 2/0)

You may have thought that David Miller is past his prime but hang on, the Killer Miller is part of the T20I of the Year. Batting primarily at number six, Miller averaged 47.1 while striking close to 150. He had a couple of good knocks against Ireland but if you remove that, his numbers are still impressive (average 34, strike-rate 140). Miller’s best knock was an unbeaten 85 off 45 balls against Pakistan. The most influential was his cameo against Sri Lanka in the T20 World Cup where he struck two sixes in the last over to clinch a thriller. 

Yes, he is our finisher but can also bat at the top of the order to break the monotony of the right-handers.

Wanindu Hasaranga

(Wickets 36, Bowling Average 11.6, Economy 5.4, Bowling Strike-Rate 12.8)

Sri Lanka may not have won many games but Hasaranga has underlined himself as a future superstar. With 36 wickets, he is the joint highest wicket-taker in 2021 alongside Tabraiz Shamsi, the other spinner in this XI. An economy of 5.4 runs per over to accompany an average of 11.4 is gold. His spell of 4/9 ushered Sri Lanka to an elusive series victory, against India in July. In the T20 World Cup, he snaffled a hat-trick. 

It just doesn’t stop at that. He is an all-rounder. His 71 against Ireland revived Sri Lanka from 8/3 to a match-winning total of 171. He is also a live-wire in the field. Ending the year as the number one T20I bowler, Hasaranga’s selection is a no-brainer. 

Anrich Nortje 

(Wickets 15, Bowling Average 15.9, Economy 6.1, Bowling Strike-Rate 15.7)

A fast bowler for all phases, Anrich Nortje is one of the three pacers in this XI. Playing 11 T20Is in 2021, he bowled at an economy of 6.4 in the powerplay, only 3.7 bowling nine overs in the middle and an impressive 7.4 at the death.

Before an excellent T20 World Cup (economy 5.4, average 11.6), Nortje was impeccable with his yorkers in the Caribbean where he made life tough for the West Indies’ batters. A jack of all trades, he gets into the side despite playing lesser cricket than a few other candidates.

Haris Rauf

(Wickets 25, Bowling Average 25.5, Economy 8.3, Bowling Strike-Rate 18.4)

Rauf’s numbers might not be in sync with the other bowlers in this XI but that is a reflection of the tough overs he has bowled in some high-scoring games. Rauf turned it around in the last five months, especially with his impactful performances in the T20 World Cup against India and New Zealand. 

Rauf’s topsy-turvy 2021 can be divided into various halves but here is the most significant break-up: in the first 12 overs in T20Is in 2021, he had an economy of 8.9 while averaging 151.5 runs per wicket. In the last eight overs, the economy and the average came down to 7.9 and 14.5 respectively. Hence, he is picked as a death bowler in this side. 

Josh Hazlewood

(Wickets 23, Bowling Average 16.3, Economy 6.9, Bowling Strike-Rate 14.3)

Josh Hazlewood gets into the XI as the strike bowler of the side. In T20 cricket, picking early wickets is as important as saving runs at the death. Hazlewood grabbed most wickets in the powerplay from a Test playing nation. His 14 wickets during the field restrictions came at an economy of only 5.7. 

Hazlewood was not considered as a T20 prospect earlier but a total of 23 wickets in 15 matches has changed that perception. 

Tabraiz Shamsi

(Wickets 36, Bowling Average 13.4, Economy 5.7, Bowling Strike-Rate 14)

Yet another player who has turned his fortunes around in international cricket in 2021. Shamsi’s rise in 2021 was meteoric. At the start of the year, he averaged 33.3 for his 21 wickets at 7.7 runs per over. In 2021 alone, he was close to triple his wicket count, while allowing only 5.7 runs per over. 

He was virtually invincible against a powerful Caribbean batting unit, allowing only 4 runs per over across the five T20Is. In two other series, his economy was less than 6 while wickets came at less than 11 runs apiece. An excellent World Cup has ensured his spot as the prime spinner in South Africa’s squad as well as our T20I XI of the Year. 

Surprisingly, four South Africans feature in the list alongside two players each from England, Australia and Pakistan. Hasaranga is the only representative from Sri Lanka. The team is stacked with bowling options - eight when you include Marsh, Markram and Livingstone. The tail is a tad long given the modern-day batting standards but such performers alongside Hasaranga at seven is a liberty as well. 

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South AfricaSri LankaAustraliaPakistanEnglandMohammad RizwanJos ButtlerMitchell MarshAiden MarkramDavid MillerLiam LivingstoneAnrich NortjeWanindu HasarangaJosh HazlewoodTabraiz ShamsiHaris Rauf

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