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In a desperate attempt to resume international cricket in Pakistan, the International Cricket Council and the Pakistan Cricket Board have arranged a three-match T20I series between the Men in Green and a World XI side in Lahore.
Since 2009 when terrorists attacked Sri Lanka’s team bus en route to the Gadaffi Stadium for a match; no international team, except for Afghanistan and Zimbabwe, has toured Pakistan citing security reasons. As a result, Pakistan has been forced to play its home matches in UAE. Playing away from the country has not only resulted in huge revenue loss for the PCB, but it has also deprived the fans of some world class cricket for the last eight years.
Well, the scenario can change if the upcoming matches in Lahore go well. The successful staging of the games will pave the way for more international games in the country.
However, while the idea of sending a World XI side to Pakistan seems a noble one, the title of the touring team is a misnomer. Led by South Africa captain Faf du Plessis, the 13-member squad, except for du Plessis, does not have a player who features in the top ten of either T20I rankings for batsmen or bowlers. In fact, several players in the squad are not even regular starters for the national teams.
One just hopes that the objective of the series which is to pave the way for the return of international cricket is achieved, but there is no denying that the touring team does not have the best T20I players of the world.
So here we are presenting you the team that would have been an ideal World XI side:
A strike-rate of over 149, an average of almost 39, one century and seven half-centuries, Finch is one of the best openers in the shortest format of the game in the world right now.
The right-handed batsman, who is currently the second-best T20I batsman, etched his name in the history books when he slammed a world-record 156 against England in 2013 with the help of a staggering 14 sixes. The score is still the highest score in T20Is, and it had helped him to become not only the number one T20I batsman at that time but also the captain of his national team in the 20-over format.
There are few openers in the world right now who are as destructive as the Australian opener. The left-handed batsman arrived on the international stage in 2008-09 as a T20 specialist, slamming a breathtaking 89 from 43 balls on debut against South Africa’s formidable attack.
Since then, he has been an indispensable part of Australia’s T20I team. So far, he has scored 1686 runs in 63 matches with the help of 12 half-centuries.
Virat Kohli (Captain):
Any World XI side is incomplete irrespective of the format without Kohli. The number one ranked batsman in T20Is as well as in ODIs, the India skipper will be the best man to lead this star-studded side. The 28-year old, who had scored a mind-boggling four centuries in the ninth edition of the Indian Premier League, is currently the third highest run-scorer in T20Is and the two who are ahead of him- Tillakaratne Dilshan and Brendon McCullum have already retired. He is the only player in the world right now with an average of over 50 in the 20-over format.
So far, he has amassed 1830 runs in 50 games at an astonishing average of 53.82 with the help of 17 centuries.
AB de Villiers:
The mere sight of AB de Villiers standing in the crease can send shivers down the spine of the majority of the bowlers. Arguably, the most dangerous batsman in the right now, de Villiers has made life tough for the opposition with his wide array of shots that has earned him the name ‘Mr 360 degree’.
De Villiers’ track record in T20I is not that attractive as compared to his Test and ODI records, but it is mainly due to his batting lower down the order. However, his breathtaking displays in ODIs and Indian Premier League is enough to show the carnage he can inflict on his day. So far, the right-handed batsman has scored 1603 runs in 76 T20Is at 25.85 with the help of 10 fifties.
The first and only man so far to hit six sixes in T20Is, Yuvraj Singh is another player who will walk into any T20 side. A menace with the bat in his prime, the southpaw was instrumental in India’s historic triumph in the inaugural World T20 in 2007. His blistering knocks against England and Australia in that tournament have become a part of the cricketing folklore, and he will undoubtedly be one of the first names to get a place in the World XI side.
Not a regular member of the Indian team right now, Yuvraj has scored 1177 runs in T20Is at an impressive strike-rate of over 138.
Another destructive batsman who can wreak havoc with the bat at any position, the Englishman has made a big reputation with his aggressive displays. His strike-rate of 139.77 is one of the best in the world right now, and his wicketkeeping abilities are equally impressive.
So far, Buttler has scored 984 runs in 56 T20Is with the help of 5 fifties.
Dwayne Bravo is nothing less than a gem in the shortest format of the game. A two-time World T20 champions, Bravo’s batting abilities, economical bowling with a knack of providing crucial breakthroughs and electric fielding makes him every captain’s go to man.
Bravo has represented Windies in 66 T20Is, scoring 1142 runs in addition to picking up 52 wickets.
At a time when the spinners were finding it tough to survive in the slam-bang format of the game, Narine entered the international stage like a fresh lease of life. His economical bowling and several variations made life tough for the batsmen as he emerged one of the best bowlers in the shortest format of the game His ability to bowl at any stage of the match including the powerplays make him an asset in T20s.
So far, he has taken 48 wickets in 47 T20Is with a brilliant economy-rate of 6.07.
Arguably the best right-arm pacer in the world right now, Rabada can not only choke the run-rate, but he can also provide the breakthroughs with both new as well as the old ball. The South Africa pace spearhead will be an automatic choice in any team at the moment. So far, he has picked up 22 wickets in 16 T20Is at an impressive strike-rate of 16.4.
With Rabada at one end and Starc at other, the opposition batsman will have a nightmare. Australia’s pace spearhead is probably the best left-arm pacer in the world at the moment. An integral part of the Australian team that won the 2015 50-over World Cup, Starc has played only 22 T20Is so far but has managed to make a mark.
So far, he has taken 30 wickets at an impressive strike-rate of 18.86 and an even more impressive economy rate of 6.77.
Currently the second-best T20I bowler, Imran Tahir is another spinner who has excelled well in the format where a majority of the bowlers have struggled to do well. A strike-rate of 14.81, an economy rate of 6.63 and also a five-wicket haul speaks volume of his abilities in T20Is. So far, he has played 33 T20Is, taking 55 wickets.