Tuesday Oct 12 2021
Web Desk

T20 World Cup: Virat Kohli, Kane Williamson among Rashid Khan's favourite players

Web Desk
Afghanistans star spinner Rashid Khan speaks to ICCs in-house media. — ICC
Afghanistan's star spinner Rashid Khan speaks to ICC's in-house media. — ICC

  • Khan picks his five favourites in cricket's shortest format.
  • Khan does not include himself in his favourites for T20.
  • Spinner names Kohli, Williamson, among five players.

Afghanistan's star spinner Rashid Khan has revealed his top five favourite players from around the world ahead of the ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2021.

Speaking to ICC's in-house media, the spinner did not include himself in the top five despite a T20I average of 12.63 and economy of 6.21, and an overall T20 record of 17.62 and 6.35.

Tasked to name his first five choices in a World T20 XI, Khan named two Indian superstars, a Black Caps icon, a West Indian, and a South African.

Here’s a run-down of Khan’s five picks and why he selected them.

Virat Kohli

The Indian skipper has a total of 10,136 runs to his name, with an average of 41.20 in T20s and a total of 3,159 runs, with an average of 52.65 in T20Is.

One of the game’s greatest ever cross-format batters, Kohli has found unparalleled consistency in T20I cricket.

No one has scored more runs in men’s T20Is than Kohli’s 3,159 and among players who have batted at least 20 times, no one has a better average than his 52.65. Across all men’s T20s he sits 11th for average (41.21) but he’s played in excess of 100 more innings than anyone ahead of him on that list.

“Doesn’t really depend on the wicket, doesn’t matter whatever the wicket is, he is someone who is going to step up and perform,” Khan said.

Kane Williamson

New Zealand captain Kane Williamson has 5,429 runs and an average of 31.47 to his name in T20s and a total of 1,805 runs with an average of 31.66 in T20Is.

A long-time teammate of Khan at Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Indian Premier League, the leggie picked Williamson for the sense of “calm” he brings to the side.

With 11 50+ scores from just 49 T20Is as captain, Williamson has thrived as skipper and shown plenty of tactical nous throughout his time in charge.

AB de Villiers

South African cricketer AB de Villiers holds 9,424 runs and an average of 37.24 to his name in T20s and has scored a total of 1,672 runs with an average of 26.12 in T20Is.

There have been few more intimidating sights for opposition bowlers than AB de Villiers walking out to bat. Quite simply, there is no good time to be bowling to de Villiers.

“A destructive batsman,” Khan said. “Someone who can give you quick runs at any stage, any wicket, against any bowler and he can play any shot. As a captain, you will always love to have that batsman.”

The South African has been crowned Player of the Match 42 times in T20s — a mark bettered only by Chris Gayle in men’s cricket.

Kieron Pollard

West Indies' Kieron Pollard has scored 11,236 runs and taken 300 wickets in T20s, while he has 1,378 runs and 38 wickets in T20Is.

Khan picked two all-rounders in his five, with both getting the nod for their ability with the bat at the death.

The first of the two was West Indies skipper Kieron Pollard, who is already assured of a spot among the T20 greats.

No one has played more T20s than Pollard’s 568. Only Chris Gayle (14,276) has scored more than Pollard’s 11,236 T20 runs. Those runs have come fast too, with his strike rate of 152.62 the best of anyone among the top 40 run-scorers.

On top of that, he’s also taken 300 wickets in the format.

Hardik Pandya

India's Hardik Pandya has scored 2,728 runs and taken 110 wickets in T20s, while he has 484 runs and taken 42 wickets in T20Is.

“These two will be my key (batters) who can chase 80-90 when I need them in the last four-five overs,” Khan said of Pollard and Pandya. “They are the kind of batsmen who can do the job for you easily.”

Free-spirited with the bat and aggressive with the ball, Pandya has been a key cog in India’s T20 batting order since first appearing for the side in 2016.

Still only 28, Pandya has already played 170 T20s and made a name for himself for the big impact he can have in a short space of time as attested to by his strike rate of 141.49. When he hits them, they generally stay hit, with 48% of the 340 boundaries he has hit in T20 cricket going for six.