Babar Azam named captain of ICC's 'Most Valuable Team of the Tournament'

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Pakistan captain Babar Azam pictured after playing a shot during the T20 World Cup 2021. Photo: ICC
Pakistan captain Babar Azam pictured after playing a shot during the T20 World Cup 2021. Photo: ICC

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has released the official Men’s T20 World Cup Upstox Most Valuable Team of the Tournament and to the delight of many Pakistanis around the globe, Babar Azam has been selected as its skipper. 

Cricketers from six different teams were named in the Most Valuable Team of the Tournament. 

Cricketers from the World Cup-winning Australia, runners-up New Zealand, semi-finalists England and Pakistan as well as Sri Lanka and South Africa have been featured in the line-up.

From Australia, Player of the Tournament David Warner, leg-spinner Adam Zampa and seamer Josh Hazlewood all make the cut. 

Jos Buttler has been selected as the team's wicketkeeper, Pakistan’s Babar Azam has been selected as the captain, New Zealand left-armer Trent Boult and Sri Lanka star Wanindu Hasaranga – the tournament’s leading wicket-taker – are also in the line-up.

The line-up, featuring the stars from all cricket teams, has been selected by commentators, former international players and journalists Ian Bishop (Convenor), Natalie Germanos, Shane Watson, Lawrence Booth - of Wisden, the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday - and Shahid Hashmi of Agence France Presse.

Notably, the team of the tournament does not mention any Indian cricketer at all. 

Pakistan's left-handed destructive fast bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi has been selected as the 12th man of the squad. 

"As with any team selection, there will be varying opinions and robust discussion on the final composition of the squad. The panel respects that, and we encourage the strong debate that will ensue. This team was incredibly difficult to select over such a highly competitive tournament. Selections were based predominantly on the Super 12 onward to the final," said Ian Bishop. 

The team of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021 (in batting order) is:

  • David Warner (Australia) – 289 runs at 48.16
  • Jos Buttler (wk) (England) – 269 runs at 89.66, five dismissals
  • Babar Azam (Captain, Pakistan) – 303 runs at 60.60
  • Charith Asalanka (Sri Lanka) – 231 runs at 46.20
  • Aiden Markram (South Africa) – 162 runs at 54.00
  • Moeen Ali (England) – 92 runs at strike rate of 131.42, seven wickets at 11
  • Wanindu Hasaranga (Sri Lanka) – 16 wickets at 9.75
  • Adam Zampa (Australia) – 13 wickets at 12.07
  • Josh Hazlewood (Australia) – 11 wickets at 15.90
  • Trent Boult (New Zealand) – 13 wickets at 13.30
  • Anrich Nortje (South Africa) – nine wickets at 11.55
  • 12th: Shaheen Afridi – seven wickets at 24.14

Regarding skipper Babar Azam, the ICC wrote:

"Captaining the side at No.3 is Pakistan skipper Babar, who was the only batter to break the 300-run barrier throughout the duration of the competition.

"His 68 not out against old rivals India powered Pakistan to a memorable 10-wicket victory, while three further half-centuries in the Super 12 stages helped book his team’s slot in the semi-final against Australia," it added. 

"And while they were unable to battle past Aaron Finch’s outfit, Babar helped himself to 39 in the first innings to finish his campaign in a typically consistent fashion."

The ICC also spoke highly of Shaheen Afridi, whose opening overs in Pakistan's clashes against India, Australia and other teams helped the Men in Green deliver emphatic blows to the opposition and in most cases, helped them win the crucial matches. 

"Taking his place as 12th man is Pakistan prodigy Shaheen Afridi, who started his tournament in style with a blistering new ball spell against old foes India," reads the post on the ICC's website. 

"Afridi, 21, removed the talismanic top three trio of Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and captain Virat Kohli to end with figures of three for 31 and lay the foundations for a memorable victory.

"The left-arm pacer finished the tournament with seven wickets at 24.14 and will no doubt continue to star at multiple more ICC World Cup events throughout an exciting future career," it added.

Speaking to Geo News, a member of the panel that put together the team spoke highly of Pakistan's wicketkeeper batsman Mohammad Rizwan, saying that he had not been included in the team as it already featured three of them: Babar Azam, Jos Buttler and David Warner. 

There was no room for a fourth opener, hence Rizwan was dropped, said the member of the committee. However, the panelist did recognise Rizwan's important contributions for the Men in Green in the T20 World Cup.