Dubai: It was quite a brain-wracking exercise by the selection panel to name the ICC Dream Team of the T20 World Cup which concluded on Sunday. Babar Azam, the prolific Pakistan skipper who was the highest scorer in the tournament, was named the captain of the squad - a ICC ritual after every World Cup - with players from champions Australia, runners-up New Zealand, semi-finalists England and Pakistan as well as Sri Lanka and South Africa making the cut.
There was not a single player from India - and that will not really raise eyebrows given their insipid campaign in the tournament where they failed to enter the knockout stages. Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul, their opening pair, had scored two and three half-centuries respectively during their Super-12 matches, but their efforts failed to weild any influence in their team’s campaign.
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The choice of opening batters - Man of the Tournament David Warner and Jos Buttler - will hardly brook any argument. If there is an interesting omission, it’s that of New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson, who saved his best for the last with a masterly 85 in the final and was outstanding in his captaincy in the manner he stifled India in the group league game. However, it could be about the team combination, or often the strike-rate, that may have tilted the votes against him.
The side was culled by a selection panel featuring 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 AFP and ARY Channel.
Bishop, the former West Indian paceman and TV pundit, said: “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.”
Apart from Warner, leg-spinner Adam Zampa and seamer Josh Hazlewood were the two others to make the cut for Australia after helping steer their side to their first ever ICC Men’s T20 World Cup title.
Sri Lankan Asalanka slots in at No.4 after his match-winning innings against Bangladesh in the Super 12s. With his team in pursuit of 172 to win, Asalanka cracked a scintillating 80 not out off just 49 balls to guide Sri Lanka over the line and solidify his reputation as one of his country’s brightest talents.
A further innings of 68 against the West Indies soon followed as Asalanka scored 231 runs at an average of 46.20 throughout the course of the tournament.
South African Aiden Markram and England allrounder Moeen occupy the No.5 and 6 positions, with Markram’s quickfire 52 not out against England helping down Eoin Morgan’s team in Sharjah.
Another half-century against the West Indies helped him reach a total of 162 runs at an average of 54 while for Ali, a haul of 92 – at a strike rate of 131.42 – provided a valuable contribution for England.
Taking his place as 12th man is Shaheen Afridi, who started his tournament in style with a blistering new ball spell against India. 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.
ICC Team of T20 World Cup
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 man: Shaheen Afridi – seven wickets at 24.14