T20 World Cup stars
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: (From top left) Virat Kohli of India, Shaheen Shah Afridi of Pakistan, Travis Head of Australia and Nicholas Pooran of the West Indies. The four are among the stars who are expected to make an impact on the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in the US and the West Indies, beginning June 1. Image Credit: Reuters & AFP

Virat Kohli (117 matches, 4,037 runs)

Royal Challengers Bengaluru's Virat Kohli plays a shot
Image Credit: AFP

The former captain will remain the backbone of Indian batting in the Twenty20 format. The 35-year-old’s batting played a pivotal role in India’s entry to the 2022 semifinals in Australia. Following criticism over his slow strike rate, Kohli reinvented his game during this Indian Premier League, scoring 741 runs at a strike rate of 154.69. That’s good news for India.

Shaheen Shah Afridi (65 matches, 91 wickets)

Shaheen Shah Afridi
Image Credit: AFP

The Pakistan pacer is back to full fitness after recovering from a severe injury. The 24-year-old, with his pace and movement in the air and off the pitch, can take early wickets. He spearheads arguably the best pace bowling attack in the World Cup. His recent performances against England have lifted him three places to 12th in the T20 rankings for bowlers.

Rashid Khan (85 matches, 138 wickets)

Rashid Khan
Image Credit: ANI

The Afghan T20 specialist has not been at his best, but the leg-spinner is a feared bowler in white-ball cricket. The 25-year-old has been in the international franchise circuit for quite some time and commands great respect from the batters due to his accuracy and variations. His return from injury is a big boost for Afghanistan.

Travis Head (26 matches, 656 runs)

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Image Credit: ICC Twitter

The Australian left-hander has become a fearsome batter after his match-winning 137 against India in the 2023 ODI World Cup final. The 30-year-old’s attacking batting was critical in Sunrisers Hyderabad’s run to the IPL final, finishing fourth in the scorers list with 567 runs. Head’s IPL strike rate of 191.5 will give the confidence to launch the Australian innings with David Warner.

Mustafizur Rahman (96 matches, 120 wickets)

Mustafizur Rahman
Image Credit: AFP

The Bangladesh left-arm pacer has become a potent force under the tutelage of former Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni while turning out for the Chennai Super Kings. During his IPL stint, the 28-year-old has regained his rhythm and confidence, claiming 14 wickets in 9 matches. Mustafizur can keep the batters guessing with his slow cutters and surprise them with his pace and bounce.

Phil Salt (22 matches, 652 runs)

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Image Credit: AFP

The England opener is relatively new in international cricket, but his white-ball specialist’s strokeplay in the powerplay has garnered plenty of attention. The 27-year-old from Sussex formed a formidable partnership with Sunil Narine, giving the Kolkata Knight Riders rousing starts in the league games before they won the IPL title. Salt’s 435 runs at a strike rate of 182 is evidence of his fearless hitting. England will rely on him for fast starts as they defend the T20 World Cup.

Trent Boult (57 matches, 74 wickets)

Trent Boult
Image Credit: Reuters

The wily New Zealand left-arm pacer keeps the runs in check in the powerplay overs and gets early wickets. The 34-year-old hasn’t had a great IPL season, but the low-bounce wickets in the Caribbean may work to his advantage.

Nicholas Pooran (88 matches, 1,848 runs)

Nicholas Pooran
Lucknow Super Giants' Nicholas Pooran watches the ball after playing a shot during the Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 cricket match between Mumbai Indians and Lucknow Super Giants at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on May 17, 2024. Image Credit: AFP

The West Indian left-hander’s batting talent was never in doubt, but he tends to be careless. Pooran’s striking abilities can turn around a match in a few balls, but consistency was never his strong point. The 28-year-old Trinidadian has scored 499 runs at a strike rate of 178.21 in the IPL season 17, making him the player to watch.