What would a current combined Asia T20I XI, based on the men’s ICC rankings, look like?
The 2022 Asia Cup will be played in the T20I format, so we have picked out the best possible team based on the ICC rankings. We have picked the four highest-ranked batters, the top-ranked wicketkeeper, the two top all-rounders and four bowlers. For balance, we have ensured at least three specialist quicks are selected along with at least two spinners. This filter has forced a few top guns like Wanindu Hasaranga and Yuzvendra Chahal to miss out.
*Stats till August 26, 2022, considered
Babar Azam (Pakistan)
Current ICC T20I batting ranking: 1st (818 points)
The Pakistan skipper averages over 45 in the format and is only one of three batters to score over 1,000 runs in T20Is since the start of 2021. Though his strike rate is a talking point – he struck at 128.51 in this period – he has made it a habit of getting big scores and laying the platform for the side. He has ten fifties and one hundred since 2021 in 27 innings.
Pathum Nissanka (Sri Lanka)
Current ICC T20I batting ranking: 9th (661 points)
The Sri Lanka opener has scored 628 runs in his career, 257 of which have come against world-champions Australia. He has made 326 runs in T20Is in 2022 – the most by any Sri Lanka batter – hitting two fifties at a strike rate of 114.38.
Mohammed Rizwan (Pakistan)
Current ICC T20I batting ranking: 3rd (794 points)
Rizwan is picked in our side as the top-ranked wicketkeeper, but could have made it solely based on his batting as well. He is the top run-scorer in T20Is since 2021, scoring 1,349 runs at an average of 71 and a strike rate of nearing 135. Nicholas Pooran is second on the list and has 312 runs fewer than Rizwan. The Pakistan gloveman also has hit 12 fifties in this period – the most by any batter – along with a hundred.
Muhammad Waseem (UAE)
Current ICC T20I batting ranking: 7th (703 points)
Waseem has set the stage on fire ever since he made his T20I debut last year. In 15 innings, he has crossed 100 twice and has also registered four half-centuries. His career average stands at 44.07 with a strike rate of 156.02. The last number shoots up to 161.51 in 2022. Overall, he has batted with a strike rate of over 145 eight of the nine times he has made at least 20.
Suryakumar Yadav (India)
Current ICC T20I batting ranking: 2nd (805 points)
Earning the fabled ‘Mr. 360’ tag for his ability to smash the ball to all parts, Suryakumar Yadav is one of the few batters to truly marry consistency with explosiveness. Since his debut last year, he has made 672 runs at an average of 37.33 and a strike rate of 175.45. No other batter from a full-member country has made more runs at a better strike rate and average. His high score of 117 in a losing cause against England further displayed his versatility.
Shakib Al Hasan (Bangladesh)
Current ICC T20I all-rounder ranking: 2nd (232 points)
An experienced veteran, Shakib is set to play his 100th T20I in the Asia Cup. A trusted batter lower down the order, Bangladesh’s current captain has picked up a total of 29 wickets since 2021 at an average of 17.93 and an economy rate of 6.29, both of which are better than his career records.
Mohammad Nabi (Afghanistan)
Current ICC T20I all-rounder ranking: 1st (238 points)
The 37-year-old has shown no signs of stopping. In the last year, he has increased his batting average to 28.55 – up from his career average of 22.64 – while his bowling is as lethal as ever.
Rashid Khan (Afghanistan)
Current ICC T20I bowling ranking: 5th (679 points)
No list will ever be complete without the presence of Rashid. The 23-year-old is already regarded as one of the best spinners in the format, picking up 112 wickets in 66 games. Since 2021, he has grabbed 23 scalps, picking up a wicket every 17 balls on average. Though picked as the top-ranked spinner, he can also be a handy batter lower down the order.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar (India)
Current ICC T20I bowling ranking: 10th (644 points)
Bhuvneshwar struggled with form and fitness last year but has bounced back in style to regain his spot as one of the premier fast bowlers in the world. Since the 2021 T20 World Cup last year, the seamer has taken 23 wickets, the second-most among quicks.
Shaheen Afridi (Pakistan)
Current ICC T20I bowling ranking: 13th (634 points)
The left-armer will be a big miss for Pakistan in the Asia Cup, having been ruled out due to a knee injury. The winner of the ICC Men’s Cricketer of the Year award for 2021, Shaheen can trouble batters with his angle and pace, whilst also keeping things tight.
Bilal Khan (Oman)
Current ICC T20I bowling ranking: 28th (549 points)
Picking three specialist quicks in our XI has helped Bilal find a place in the team. It is an honour well-deserved for the 34-year-old who has been a connoisseur of fast bowling in Oman. Bilal has 63 T20I wickets at an average of 16.50. No other player from the country has taken more than 50 scalps, and no one with more than four wickets has a better bowling average.