The shorter format’s inception took place in the last decade, but it truly came to life after 2010. The recurring success of IPL and other T20 leagues like Big Bash League, BPL and CPL played its part in making this format the new blockbuster, and as it turned out, it ended up having a significant impact on the other formats too.
A six over covers is no longer unbelievable, a scoop or even a reverse-scoop against a fast bowler isn’t outrageous, shimmying down the track to a bowler whose average speed is 140 kph – These facets are now as common as Virat Kohli scoring hundred these days.
The T20I of this decade comprises three frontline spinners as a tribute to all the phenomenal spinners who defeated the odds. It was believed that the art of leg-spin would die with this format, but as it turned out, they ended up having so many match-turning moments.
Here’s the best T20I XI of this decade:
1. Rohit Sharma
One of the most flamboyant and effortless strikers of the cricket ball, Rohit Sharma escalated his level from a great talent, to a fine servant of Indian cricket and now, one could definitely consider him an all-time great in the limited-overs.
Although he made his debut in the previous decade and made a mark in the World T20 2007, his true stint in Indian cricket began when he started opening for the side. Ever since he has donned the opener’s hat, he has been one of the best players in the world against the white ball.
Rohit piled up 2306 runs in 88 games this decade in the international T20s. His average lurks just above the 30-mark and another important stat is that he registered 4 centuries, becoming the only player in T20I history to do so. Also, no cricketer hit more sixes in this decade than the Indian vice-captain.
2. Mohammad Shahzad (wk)
A selection not many would agree with, but Mohammad Shahzad has had a wonderful time helping Afghanistan beat the odds and script a fairytale worth remembering. The lad is aggressive and maybe not the best in terms of body physique, but manages to connect it clean and hit it out of the park.
One of his best knocks came against South Africa in the World T20 2016, where he took on some of the best fast bowlers and made six-hitting ridiculously easy at the Wankhede. Whenever he came out to the middle, he managed to make his presence felt and was a more than decent keeper regardless of what his outer appearance suggests.
He scored 1936 runs in this time span in 65 innings at a strike-rate nearly touching the 135 mark and an average of 31.22. This effort from the Afghanistan keeper also includes a century and 12 half-centuries coming in this duration.
3. Virat Kohli
This man’s presence in every XI this decade is a must, as his stats suggest. Virat Kohli managed to top the run-scoring charts in both the limited-overs formats and during his exemplary knock against Bangladesh, he became the first cricketer to score more than 2500 runs in all forms of the game. With time and power to add, he perhaps has a lot of such exploits to give his fans.
What makes the Indian captain so special in this format is his ability to maintain composure, not go for the big hits all the time and teaching the world that finding gaps still has relevance in the fast-paced format. No one can forget what he did to South Africa in the 2014 World T20 semifinal or what happened in the 2016 World T20 group stage game against Australia.
Coming to the most exciting part of his writeups, the stats. In the 73 games he has played for the country, he piled up 2,544 runs at an average better than any other cricketer with more than 500 runs to his name. This includes a staggering 23 half-centuries and he registered a career-best score of 94 against the Windies just a few days ago.
4. Babar Azam
Babar Azam is still relatively new to the industry, but what he has achieved in this short span of time wins him a position in the playing XI. Perhaps one of the best white-ball players in the last three years, Babar Azam found a level of consistency in this format which was seen only in Virat Kohli. The youngster still has better days coming up and could do wonders in the next decade.
One of the best things about his batting is that he tries to keep things simple and goes for the shots which are well in his radar, rather than just lofting hopelessly and expecting his muscle power to take the ball over the stands. Some believe he can work on his big hitting a little more, but is expected to learn that with time, just the way Kohli did.
In the 36 games he has played since making his debut in 2016, Azam scored 1,405 runs at an average second only to Virat Kohli among batsmen with than 1000 runs to his credit (50.17). He mustered 12 half-centuries with the best score of 97, a hundred is long overdue for the youngster and surely, he has that coming up in the next decade.
5. Eoin Morgan (C)
Not many will keep talking on how good a decade it has been for Eoin Morgan, especially after the way they won the World Cup final a few months back. But none can deny he led a revolution in English cricket which will be revered and remembered for a long time to come. Morgan will be captaining this coveted unit after all the success England had this decade, despite not winning a trophy.
It was important for someone to lift England out of their ruins and Andrew Strauss found a more than capable leader in the Irish born cricketer and the rest, as they say, is history. He came to bat in the middle order and played some fantastic knocks under pressure as well, ensuring that “leading from the front” concept was upheld.
In 83 games for the country in this format, Morgan scored 1901 runs at strike-rate nearly touching 135. For a batsman who plays predominantly in the middle order and gets to play less than 10 overs on most occasions, the English skipper has done a fine job. He also led the side to a World T20 final finish, which they, unfortunately, couldn’t win.
6. Glenn Maxwell
Like him or hate him but you cannot ignore the quality Glenn Maxwell brings to the side. One of the cleanest and hardest strikers of the cricketer ball, Glenn Maxwell has stood up to his reputation as one of the best in the shortest format despite having some bad patches without runs in between. He also tried opening in a few games, which worked out well on occasions.
Maxwell burst into the international scene in 2012 and played some vital knocks in the 2014 World T20. Yet, the biggest disappoint for him would be to not contribute anything significant in both the World T20s he was a part of. He struggled with his timing and temperament on the field and also had some mental issues to deal with off the field. But every time he went out, he came back stronger.
Maxwell played 61 games thus far in his career and has scored 1,576 runs at an average in excess of 35. He registered three centuries in this span and ensured his strike-rate never dipped under the 160 mark. Also, he got dismissed for a duck only once in his career, best among all the names mentioned in this list.
7. Shakib Al Hasan
The Bangladeshi icon has done the job of two cricketers in pretty much every game for the side, helping him gain a cult status. Shakib’s stint as a captain didn’t go as well as expected, but with the bat and ball, he was right up there among the best.
Bangladesh look a completely clueless proposition without his presence. His mere presence motivates the players to regularly punch above their weights and what an important role he has played in changing teams’ attitude while playing against his team. The upcoming World T20 will be incredibly crucial for the man, who will definitely push the side and make them believe they can win it.
Coming to his mind-boggling statistics, he has 1,438 runs in 65 games at an average of 26.14. He also has 79 wickets to his name, making him Bangladesh‘s highest wicket-taker in this format and also the third-highest wicket-taker in this decade, all of this at an economy under 7. This was a performance to remember coming from Bangladesh’s demigod of the masses.
8. Lasith Malinga
One of the greatest fast bowlers of all time in limited-overs, Lasith Malinga singlehandedly steered his side to a World T20 triumph in 2014. The side reached the final in 2012 but were unfortunate to lose out against West Indies on home soil. But Malinga’s constant threat at the death made opponents do so silly things and one way or the other, he had his say always.
With that slinging action and relentless accuracy to hit the full-length in death overs, Malinga turned from a superstar to a legend in this format this decade. The Lankan maestro was exceptional on any kind of track and any pitch he played, picking up wickets more consistently than any other fast bowler.
He picked up 82 wickets in 59 matches, which came at an average just above 19 and an economy of 7.15. One of his most iconic performances in this format came most recently against New Zealand when he picked up four wickets in four deliveries to kill their top order in a low-scoring run-chase.
9. Jasprit Bumrah
For the very reason why we included Babar Azam in our honorary XI, Jasprit Bumrah too makes a cut sheerly for the impact he has managed to have on the game in this time. Already touted as the best death bowler India has produced, Bumrah has won numerous games for the country already while coming in to bowl in the death overs.
Following in his footsteps of idol Lasith Malinga, who also is his teammate in the Mumbai Indians, Bumrah found a great tempo to his bowling. A lot of credit also should be given to his bowling coach Bharat Arun, who has worked very hard on maintaining his mental strength intact for big games.
He picked up 51 wickets in 42 games at a splendid economy of 6.71. He averages just above 20 with the ball and a staggering five maidens in these three years, a feat only bettered by Nuwan Kulasekara among the top-20 wicket-takers this decade. Clearly, he too has his best years coming up in the next decade.
10. Rashid Khan
We talked so much about the art of leg-spin being under the scrutiny when the format was introduced, but some class legspinners like Rashid Khan, Yuzvendra Chahal, Imran Tahir, Amit Mishra, Shahid Afridi and Samuel Badree went against the odds and established wrist spin as one of the most lethal sources of wickets in this format.
Rashid Khan might not have played a considerable number of times against the bigger opponents, which might make his stats look better, but without debate, he deserves a spot on this XI. His ability to keep things clean and tight till the very end has been commended by everyone from the fraternity who has seen him play.
Rashid also is the highest wicket-taker of this decade, picking up 84 wickets in 45 games. He did this at an outrageous average of 12.52 and an economy as staggering as 6.15. He represented the country once in the World T20 among the big tournaments of this format and clearly has huge ambitions for the next edition.
11. Imran Tahir
One of the most entertaining and watchable cricketers of this decade, perhaps all of history, Imran Tahir kept churning out big wickets at regular intervals for South Africa. One of the finest legspinners the country had the privilege to serve us, Imran Tahir’s record with the white ball has been as good as any cricketer in the world.
Tahir bowls it relatively quickly through the air and is difficult to get away with. He is one of those bowlers who will variate his pace at regular intervals and maintains a perfect balance attacking and defensive bowling. The South African pulled off a stellar performance in the 2014 World T20, but the side lost to India in the semifinals.
When compared to his compatriots, Tahir has a lesser number of wickets but has had a much more significant impact on the team. In the 38 games he played, he picked up 63 wickets and maintained a stellar average of 15.04 and an economy of 6.73. This effort includes two five-fers as well, becoming one of the four cricketers to have picked up two five-fers in the format.
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