World cricket has always had players who have the ability to win matches for their teams single-handedly. They might be the top-ranked batsmen or the fastest bowlers, but most importantly they have the skills and ability to get their team out of crunch situations and not only that, get them past the finish line whenever they are given the responsibility to do so. Every time there is an opportunity to win games for the team they represent they do so and do it without fail.
Often hailed as ‘game changers’, they provide a perfect dose of thrill and entertainment to the fans while sending chills down the spines of the opposition. Their name is enough to make the opposition players to think twice before making any move and even get into defensive positions, whenever they step on to the field.
Here’s a line-up of such players, who have the skills and reputation to be tagged as the ‘game changers’ in world cricket at the moment:
1. Rohit Sharma
Probably one of the best openers in One Day International cricket, Rohit Sharma, will surely make it to any squad of the world at this point in time. The holder of the record for the most double centuries in ODIs, Rohit has been one of the best performers of the Indian side in the last seven years. Since the time he was asked to open the batting during the 2013 Champions Trophy, his graph of success is on an exponential rise.
With the ability to tilt the match in favour of his team at will, coupled with the way he has handled himself on the field, regarding him to be the top batsman in the Indian squad, alongside Virat Kohli, is no big deal. And, if there is any room for argument in this claim, Rohit’s stat sheet speaks for itself. Since 2017, he has been faring really well in the opener’s role, and has managed to pile up more than 7,000 runs and has maintained an excellent average of 59.74.
So, all of the above-stated facts, along with the un-questionable set of skills he possesses, make him a game-changer, in the 50-over format of cricket. Thus, getting him a place in this squad, with the role that he fares the best in, that of the opening batsman of the team.
2. David Warner
If a movie was to be made on the life of a cricketer that would assure huge revenue generations at the box office, David Warner would be the best candidate for it. A dream debut, followed by an exponential rise, and a subsequent exile from the sport owing to some wrongdoings and an epic comeback after it. His career has seen it all.
But, all through it, Warner has remained the man he was since his day in international cricket. His skills at 33 years are still as sharp as they were back when he had made his debut. One of the most feared openers in international cricket at the moment, every captain would want a player like him open the inning for his team at any given point in time. In the second inning of his career, that is, his return after the ball-tampering fiasco, he is going strong and continues to dominate bowlers across the world in ODI cricket.
His style of play, along with his fantastic ability to gel in with any player and forge partnerships with him from the get-go, makes him a true game-changer and a perfect companion for his counterpart from India, to open the innings. And, bring down the morale of opposition bowlers, right from the first ball of the match and set a foundation of a big score.
3. Virat Kohli (C)
Widely regarded as the best batsman in world cricket right now, Virat Kohli is the kind of player, about whom Indians used to dream after Sourav Ganguly’s departure from the sport. A great leader having a distinct presence of aggression and flair in his gameplay, along with his newfound ability to hold himself together in times of struggle, Kohli is the player to have in your side whenever you are playing ODIs.
Kohli is currently ranked as the top batsman in ODI cricket and has been in blazing hot form in the last five years with the bat. His success in the sport is the kind one dreams of having, but it becomes a reality in very rare cases, and Kohli’s happens to be one such exception. He has led the Indian team by example and has by far not failed to carry forward the baton that another great of the sport, MS Dhoni had handed him.
Kohli, though has stopped bowling, can still be called a ‘three-dimension player’, with the three dimensions being match fitness, consistent performances and excellent leadership. Kohli is undoubtedly a game-changer in ODIs and makes his place into this squad as the captain and number three batsman.
4. Babar Azam
Pakistan cricket has been in a slump in the last few years after the departure of players like Misbah ul Haq and the like from the squad. But, it is players like Babar Azam who keep the spirits of Pakistani cricket fans high, drawing them to the grounds to support their team. He has been an exceptional player with the bat and has been responsible for taking Pakistan to victories single-handedly on multiple occasions.
In his 74-match long career, he has scored an insane amount of runs, 3359 to be precise. And, his average stands at an impressive 54.18, with the strike rate being 87.09. He has scored 11 centuries so far and has gotten past the 50 run mark 15 times in his career. He has been improving and consistently performing for his team since day 1 and is regarded to be the next big thing in Pakistan cricket.
With the responsibility to carry Pakistan’s batting order after the departure of the experienced players, Azam has done pretty well and has emerged as a game-changer for Pakistan. Cricket enthusiast and analysts hold him in very high regards and the way he is growing day by day, it should come as a surprise to no one, if he shatters multiple records in the years to come.
5. Jos Buttler (wk)
Holder of the record for the fastest century for England, Jos Buttler’s rise through the ranks in English cricket has been an interesting one to observe. After an early introduction to the competitive version of the game, Jos has made his way up the hierarchy to become one of the mainstays of the England cricket team.
Buttler, though has a couple of players around him in the England team, he is the one who provides the last push and acts as the main driving force of the attack on the bowlers in the last phase of the inning. He is known to muscle the ball into the stands and has a strike rate of over a hundred in ODIs, which is a rare sight.
Adding icing to his batting forte is his wicket-keeping skills. From the day he has come in to the England team, they have seldom turned their heads away to look at any other individual to handle this duty.
A complete package of a finisher who can alter his scoring rate, also possessing a safe pair of hands behind the wickets, Jos Buttler is the perfect man to send in if a team wants to get the game in their favour at any stage during the game. This makes him a perfect fit for the number 5 slot in this squad.
6. Ben Stokes
Unarguably one of the best fast bowling all-rounders in world cricket right now, Ben Stokes, is the player to have in your squad if you want to dominate the world, especially in One Day International cricket. And, in 2019, he helped his national team to become the World Champions of the sport that was invented by them. His performances throughout the tournament were exceptional and were a big reason that England were able to win the cup.
In the last year or so, he has emerged as a true match-winner, who can dominate the opposition, with both the bat and the ball in his hands. His all-round abilities make him the top-ranked all-rounder in One Day International across the globe and the go-to player for his captain whenever the team is in a crunch situation.
A handy bowler in the middle overs and a big hitter of the ball in the last leg of the inning, he is a force to reckon with for any team playing against him. He can even bat higher up the order if required, making him one of the most versatile players in world cricket at the moment. His impact in every match is very high and he can change the game into his team’s favour at any given time, earning him a place on the 6th position in this line-up of game-changers.
7. Rashid Khan
Probably one of the very reasons for the rise of Afghanistan in world cricket over the past few years, Rashid Khan can never be missed out while drafting a list of game-changers in world cricket at the moment. A spinner whose balls can’t be comprehended by the batsmen, he is one of the only spinners of his kind in world cricket right now. He can open the bowling, take the game through in the middle overs, and can even turn things around in the last few overs if the need arises.
Ranked at the number 5 spot in the list of One Day International all-rounders, his abilities with the bat, though impactful, are often ignored. If the need comes, this man has the ability to hit the ball into the stands with complete ease and precision one after the other.
Apart from the boatloads of wickets that he has to his name, the Afghanistan international also has a handful of runs. In the 56 innings he has batted in, he has scored 905 runs, at a strike rate of 99.89. The average is on the lower side, but the position that he comes in to bat, it is either make or break for him.
Having the ability to turn the game around, both with the bat and the ball is a rare combination to have. And Afghanistan cricket is lucky to have such a player around, to help them grow and become a prominent name in world cricket in the years to come.
8. Imad Wasim
Filling the boots of players like Mohammad Hafeez and Saeed Ajmal can be a tough task for any cricketer, but Imad Wasim has been one of those players, who have become a part of their national squad in such a way that no one ever felt the absence of the two veterans in the team. Having lead multiple teams at age-group level, Imad was inducted into the Pakistani ODI squad in July of 2015, and since then, there has been no looking back for him.
He has been a part of the Pakistan team in 53 ODIs and has taken 42 wickets, at an average of 44.4, an economy of 4.84 and best bowling figures of 5 runs for 14 wickets. Imad has come in handy with the willow in the hands too on several occasions. He has the highest score of 63 and an aggregate of 952 runs, playing in ODIs, including five half-centuries.
His abilities have helped the Pakistan team out of crunch situations on many occasions and have even gotten them to victories. He is the perfect example of a player who can influence the flow of the game in both the innings and get his team to a comfortable win. This makes him an easy pick for the number 8 spot in this XI of game-changers.
9. Mohammed Shami
The year gone by was a dream year for the Indian pacer Mohammed Shami. He worked on his skills and attained the perfection and consistency that everyone wanted from a talented player like him. While he fared the best in the purest form of the sport, his performances in the 50 over format were also praiseworthy.
From a player, who would get through his quota of overs, getting an odd streak of success here and there, Shami has morphed into a player, who can be trusted by the captain of the team that he is playing for to win matches for him single-handedly with the ball.
While his rankings may not depict his rise in stature over the last year, his performances do. Virat Kohli, the captain of the Indian team testes his abilities to the full and on every occasion, Shami delivered and emerged as the victor.
He is the kind of talent, who discovered his true self a little late, but when he did, he became a powerhouse and an individual who can run the game according to his own whims and fancies. Any captain of the world would be more than happy to have a player like Shami in his attack, earning the 29-year-old pacer a place in this squad of game-changers.
10. Trent Boult
Trent Boult is one of the few such bowlers in One Day Cricket International cricket, who can give the batsmen nightmares. The left-handed pacer from New Zealand, Boult’s contributions in New Zealand’s ODI exploits have been really crucial and important.
Placed at the number 2 spot in the ODI rankings of bowlers, right behind his counterpart from India — Jasprit Bumrah, Boult’s deliveries can make any batsman of the world think twice before going for a shot while batting against him. He has more than 150 wickets in ODI cricket and once was responsible for taking 7 wickets in a single match, which is a proof of how lethal and at the same time, impactful can he be while bowling.
A match-winner in true sense, no one could be forgiven for not including his name in the list of the most impactful players in the current time in international cricket. And, this along with his skills are the factors that have paved his way into this line-up consisting of the best of talents in world cricket at the time.
11. Jasprit Bumrah
The top-ranked bowler in One Day International cricket, one of the fiercest bowlers in world cricket currently, one might run out of words and praises to describe Jasprit Bumrah, but still would not be able to pen down the great bowler he is. Indian cricket, which was known to produce not so fast bowlers, had been searching for a player like Bumrah, who could consistently bowl over 140 clicks and help the team bowl its way to victory.
The very fact that he leads Trent Boult by 27 points in the rankings is itself a display of the player that Bumrah is. He has ripped apart batting units across the globe and has single-handedly won the Indian team matches that they would have never thought of being able to win. The speedster’s bowling is a treat to watch and the way he controls the ball can leave anyone in awe.
Bumrah is one of the few players who can be regarded to have picked themselves in this squad and under no circumstances can be removed from the list, given the record on and off the paper they have with them.
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