With the qualifiers underway and the group stages only a few days away, it’s time to give you a taste of what is to follow. We will choose 11 top players – the best in each position – from all the teams participating, a dream team full of stars expected to shine bright at this tournament. Last edition, Virat Kohli topped the run charts and Lasith Malinga took the maximum scalps. This time around, it’s an open field again, but spectators will especially be looking forward to the following players:
Chris Gayle (West Indies)
Gayle picks himself in this format. There is no batsman in the world who can destroy bowling attacks with the ease he does. And even more dangerously, he has learned to “pace” his innings now. He doesn’t go slam-bam from the first ball. He waits, circles his prey (bowlers) and pounces when bored of blocking.
Options: Alex Hales, Rohit Sharma
AB de Villiers (South Africa)
He is being used as an opener lately, and isn’t doing too well there, but surely captain Francois du Plessis will realize his folly and put AB back at no. 4 or even 5, depending on the team’s start. South Africa needs to finish strong, and with Duminy not in form, it will be up to Miller and AB to end in a hurricane.
Options: Quinton de Kock, Martin Guptill
Virat Kohli (India)
The best T20 batsman in the world on current form is a master chaser, and lusts for the big occasion. And there’s no bigger stage than this. Can he repeat his Man of the Tournament performance? Yes, he can.
Options: Kane Williamson, Hashim Amla
David Warner (Australia)
He is being experimented with as a non-opener, and so far, he has shown freakish signs of being able to adapt anywhere. In order to accommodate Watson at the top with Finch, Australia have added one more power-hitter in the middle order to support Maxwell and Smith.
Options: Suresh Raina, Umar Akmal
Glenn Maxwell (Australia)
We all know about the ‘Big Show’ – a nickname he doesn’t quite fancy, because he has shown himself to be a responsible “power hitter” lately. The way he and Warner batted recently against South Africa to chase 200+ will send shivers down bowler’s spines.
Options: Mahmudullah, David Miller
Corey Anderson (New Zealand)
The big man is more of a handy finisher than he is a bowler. He has been showing good signs lately, and needs to step up in both departments to make up for the retirement of fellow big hitter Brendon ‘Mad Max’ McCullum. Captain Williamson needs his prime all-rounder to show up.
Options: Ben Stokes, Mitchell Marsh, Shane Watson
Jos Buttler (England)
The England keeper is currently their best T20 batsman along with opener Alex Hales – and will define his reinvented team’s fortunes in this tournament. He isn’t a bad keeper to boot.
Options: Sarfraz Ahmed, MS Dhoni
R. Ashwin (India)
The finest off-spinner in recent times will look to reinforce his reputation as a master of the subcontinent pitch. He will savor these conditions and cause chaos in opposition batting attacks – especially teams that are traditionally wary of the turning ball. South Africa, England and New Zealand need to be careful.
Options: Rangana Herath, Adil Rashid
Mohammad Amir (Pakistan)
The finest left-arm bowler in world cricket is back from his ban, and has been revving up towards this tournament. His Asia Cup performance lifted sad Pakistani hearts after some pathetic batting skills, and he will hope for more support in India – especially on the biggest stage of them all, Eden Gardens in Kolkata, where they will now play India (instead of Dharamshala, which is now crossed off the list).
Options: Trent Boult, Josh Hazlewood
Kagiso Rabada (South Africa)
The finest young fast bowler in world cricket has shot up the charts after coming up trumps against master finisher Dhoni back in India when South Africa won the ODI series 3-2. That last over seemed to bring out Rabada’s true genius, and he has gone from strength to strength since then. He has been the rare bright spot in a disappointing Test summer for the Proteas. This World Cup will be his first big pressure test.
Options: Dale Steyn, Wahaz Riaz
Jasprit Bumrah (India)
His bizarre action and nippy wrists have so far confused many top batsmen – starting with the Australians, to the Asian teams. He has shot to the top slot in India’s bowling attack, and has answered Dhoni’s prayers for a young seamer who can bowl yorkers at will in the death overs.
Options: Lasith Malinga, Jerome Taylor