World Twenty20: Time for unheralded players to make instant impact
Playing in a World Cup is the ultimate dream for any player. Cricket World Cup may not be the biggest carnival, but its Twenty20 global format is growing as one of the most followed events in the world, thanks to it's lurid charms – the slam bang, the cheer-girls, et al.
In its eight-year history with five previous editions, the newest format of the gentleman's game has managed to create an image of its own – matching other fast-pace, thrilling spectacles. The format itself has certainly become a true global phenomenon, unlike the more limited Test and refined One-Day International competitions. The very participation of hitherto unknown cricketing nations made it a truly inclusive event, a 'world cup' in true sense.
Like any other world cup, the 2016 ICC World Twenty20 will also be a platform for many unheralded cricketers to compete against the best, and prove their worth. Most of the participating nations have announced their respective 15-member squads with many unknown faces.
Following are some of the raw talents who are likely to take the world by storm in this 16-team competition:
Usman Khawaja has been around the international circuit for quite some time now. But the Pakistan-born Aussie batsman is yet to play in a big tournament. After scoring tons of runs in all forms of the game in domestic competitions, the 29-year-old will be one of the players to look out for in India. The snub that he received from the Indian Premier League franchises will also spur the left-handed batsman to perform, to make a point or two.
Adam Zampa is another Australian rookie likely to feature prominently in the March-April competition. The talented 23-year-old spinner, who is said to be handy with the willow as well, may well prove to be Australia's trump card with his all-round abilities.
Another relatively unknown player from the Aussie stable is Andrew Tye. The pace bowler has impressed in his limited outings, but in his first major competition, the 29-year-old will be more than a handy bowler thanks to his vast T20 experience.
Abu Haider is certainly not Mustafizur Rahman. But Haider has had impressive outings for his country, and the 19-year-old talented left-arm pacer will be eager to prove his worth when the Tigers take the field. He is expected to bowl alongside Rahman in India.
Since making his Twenty20 International debut in 2014, Mohammad Mithun has failed to inspire confidence in Bangladeshi selectors. With a certain Mushfiqur Rahim in the squad, he is unlikely to feature in the playing XI. But the 25-year-old, can be a surprise package if at all Bangaldesh utilise him purely as a batsman.
Liam Dawson has been mighty impressive for England Lions. The 25-year-old's inclusion in the England squad has come on expected lines, and he will be one of the hottest all-rounders in the tournament. Don't get surprise if any of the regulars are dropped to accommodate this hard-hitting, slow left-arm bowling talent.
Reece Topley has suddenly become one of England's first choice pace bowlers, thanks to his ability to bowl variety of slower deliveries, which in T20 circles is considered lethal. The 21-year-old is likely to play an important role in England's campaign.
Pawan Negi is the latest Indian talent to have successfully encashed on his cricketing abilities. The obscenely huge amount doled out by IPL franchise Delhi Daredevils was testament to his talent. The uncapped 23-year-old spinner has performed in the domestic circles, and the World Twenty20 will be the perfect stage to announce his arrival as a match-winner.
Another Indian youngster who is likely to make an impact is Hardik Pandya. The 22-year-old right-arm pace bowler was one of the finds of the India's tour of Australia. He has earned himself a place in the Indian XI with some creditable performances.
Despite his unusual bowling style, Jasprit Bumrah has managed to impress many, including skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni himself. The 22-year-old right-arm pacer played a key role in India's 3-0 whitewash of the Aussies by picking six wickets in the series. With an uncanny ability to produce perfect yorkers, the Gujarat bowler will be a tough opponent for many batsmen.
Ish Sodhi is already 31, yet still a relatively unknown entity in international cricket. But, on slow, spinning tracks in India, the Ludhiana-born leg-break bowler will be a weapon of choice for New Zealand.
Besides Sodhi, Kiwis have selected two more spinners in Mitchell Santner and Nathan McCullum. Santner, 24, is expected to play a crucial role in their campaign, considering the stated fact. He was one of the key players in their recent series against Pakistan.
Colin Munro has already been touted as the heir apparent to retiring Brendon McCullum. After hitting a much-talked about 14-ball fifty against Sri Lanka recently, he will be a player in focus. With a career average of more than 25 and a strike rate above 150, he is more than ready to set the stage on fire in India.
Hugely talented right-handed batsman Babar Azam will be one of the players to look out for in the tournament. In a talented batting side, his role is still uncertain, but the 21-year-old is sure to grab headlines if given enough opportunities.
Another uncapped Pakistan cricketer likely to feature prominently in the tournament is Mohammad Nawaz. The 21-year-old all-rounder has been equally effective with both the bat and ball, and is likely to play a big role in Pakistan's campaign.
A veteran of many T20 leagues around the world, yet still regarded as a surplus to requirements in the South African camp, Chris Morris will be a star in his own right when the Proteas land in India this March. If his IPL price-tag is anything to go by, the 28-year-old pace bowler can be a nuisance for any batting side.
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