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Wisden’s all-time men’s T20 World Cup XI

by Wisden Staff 5 minute read

After a five-year absence, the men’s T20 World Cup is set to return later this year in India.

To celebrate the previous six editions, we’ve put together an XI based on performances at those tournaments.

It was a tough ask – with some big names missing out – but here’s what we came up with.

Chris Gayle – West Indies

28 matches, 920 runs @ 40, SR: 146.73 | 9 wickets @ 28.66, ER: 7.44

Arguably the greatest T20 batsman of all time, Gayle has been a key component of West Indies’ T20I success in the last decade. In their first World T20 win, he launched them to the final with a 41-ball 75 not out against Australia, while a 48-ball 100 not out against England kickstarted the Caribbean side’s 2016 campaign. His part-time off-breaks have been of important use to the West Indies too – he returned figures of 2-17 from three overs in a narrow win over South Africa in 2016.

Mahela Jayawardene – Sri Lanka

31 matches, 1,016 runs @ 39.07, SR: 134.74

The only man to have hit more than 1,000 World T20 runs, Jayawardene helped Sri Lanka to two runners-up finishes and a long-awaited global tournament victory in 2014. He was particularly effective as an opener at the 2010 and 2012 tournaments, averaging more than 50 across 12 matches.

Virat Kohli – India

16 matches, 777 runs @ 86.33, SR: 133.04

Kohli is yet to lift the T20 World Cup, but his performances in the tournament have been truly sensational. In 16 innings, he has reached 50 on nine occasions, while his unbeaten 51-ball 82 against Australia at Mohali in 2016 ranks as one of the best knocks of his illustrious career.

Kevin Pietersen – England

15 matches, 580 runs @ 44.61, SR: 148.33

Pietersen was England’s star player when they won the World T20 back in 2010, combining destruction with consistency. In four consecutive innings, Pietersen closed the tournament with scores of 73 not out, 53, 42 not out and 47. He was duly named the Player of the Tournament for helping England to their first ICC trophy.

Marlon Samuels – West Indies

20 matches, 530 runs @ 31.17, SR: 115.72

While the numbers aren’t startling, Samuels delivered when his side needed it most. In the 2012 World T20 final, he rescued West Indies from a sedate start to top score with a match-winning 56-ball 78 – Daren Sammy was his only teammate to reach double-figures. In the 2016 final, with his side 11-3 inside three overs, Samuels’ 66-ball 85 not out set up Carlos Brathwaite for a famous final-over cameo against England at Eden Gardens.

Mike Hussey – Australia

21 matches, 437 runs @ 54.62, SR: 139.61

An expert finisher, Hussey’s finest T20 hour came in a semi-final heist. With Australia chasing 192 against Pakistan, Hussey appeared to be entering a lost cause when he arrived at the crease in the 13th over and with his team 105-5. But a truly stunning blitz, with Saeed Ajmal bearing the brunt of an extraordinary final over, saw Hussey finish unbeaten on 60 off just 24 balls and Australia through to what remains their only appearance in a Men’s World T20 final.

MS Dhoni (wk) (c) – India

33 matches, 529 runs @ 35.26, SR: 123.88

Dhoni led India to victory in the inaugural edition of the tournament, with the gloveman providing some handy cameos with the bat, too – his 18-ball 36 over Australia was vital in a 15-run semi-final win.

Shahid Afridi – Pakistan

34 matches, 39 wickets @ 23.25, ER: 6.71 | 546 runs @ 18.82, SR: 154.23

Having played in every Men’s World T20 tournament, Afridi leads the competition’s wicket-taking charts. He was particularly brilliant at the 2009 tournament, taking 11 wickets and hitting back-to-back half-centuries in the semi-final and final as Pakistan lifted the trophy.

Lasith Malinga – Sri Lanka

31 matches, 38 wickets @ 20.07, ER: 7.43

Sri Lanka’s yorker king was at his best in his side’s run to the 2009 final, taking 12 wickets in the tournament, while he took on the captaincy at the back-end of their victorious 2014 campaign.

Umar Gul – Pakistan

24 matches, 35 wickets @ 17.25, ER: 7.30

Integral to Pakistan’s run to back-to-back T20 finals in the first decade of the century, Gul was another bowler who made the yorker his trademark delivery. At the 2009 tournament he put on an exhibition at The Oval, taking five wickets against New Zealand for the cost of just six runs.

Saeed Ajmal – Pakistan

23 matches, 36 wickets @ 16.86, ER: 6.79

Another key cog in Pakistan’s 2009 World T20-winning attack, Ajmal recorded one four-wicket haul in each of his first three campaigns and remains the second-most prolific spinner in the competition’s history.

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