We all love doing this, don’t we? After all, India is a country obsessed with cricket and passing judgments on the varied aspects of the game. Sitting at the end of the year, I have jotted down a formidable T20I team of 2017. Of course, I have poured in some personal preferences as well. There have been some memorable innings, and bowlers have again tarnished the myth of T20I being a batsman-dominated format. On the contrary, there were very few all-round performances that stood out.
Here is the list. Feel free to punch holes into it.
Lewis aims to replicate Chris Gayle’s brand of cricket. While he is miles away from matching Gayle’s feats, Lewis has shown that he has the intent to be an aggressor. He is a regular in the format, and amassed 357* runs in 9* innings. This includes a spectacular knock of 125* against India. Lewis impressed one and all by his clean hitting, striking at 154.54.
Did you know that Lewis slammed 31* sixes this year? The second best, Rohit, hit 16 sixes?
Rohit Sharma (vc)
Rohit has earned the stature of being a limited-overs specialist. Since his promotion as an opener in 2013, Rohit has utilised almost every opportunity. This calendar year proved to be fruitful for the right-hander. He piled up 283 runs at a staggering average of 171.51. In addition, Rohit registered the joint-fastest T20I century in the second T20I of the three-match series versus Sri Lanka in December, equally David Miller’s spectacle.
Note: Rohit edged past Kohli and KL Rahul in the strike-rate department.
In an interview with ESPNCricinfo, Babar told, “I loved watching (AB) de Villiers in the early days. I used to follow him closely. I copied him a lot too. In the nets, I used to at least try some of the shots he played in the matches. Nowadays I follow Virat Kohli, Hashim Amla, and of course, de Villiers.”
It is quite a feat for the Pakistani youngster to outclass the likes of Kohli and Amla, and score more than de Villiers in the year. Babar remained Pakistan’s run-machine against World XI and Sri Lanka, at home.
Note: Babar is the second highest run-scorer in the calendar year, after to Lewis, without any hundred and a solitary fifty. This shows that he continued to deliver those vital knocks.
AB de Villiers (c & wk)
De Villiers played only 7 T20Is in 2017. Nonetheless, the veteran showed that his long layoff (persistent elbow injury) did not deter his approach. He remained fearless, and dominated the opposition bowlers. With two half-centuries, de Villiers notched up 304 runs.
The feature of de Villiers’ pleasant run was maintaining an average of over 50 despite one unbeaten innings. In addition, the former South African skipper struck over 150. His overall experience makes him the skipper of the XI.
Did you know that de Villiers averaged over 60 in his comeback series versus Sri Lanka? He was the leading run-scorer in the three T20Is against England. He also finished with a strike rate of 164.29 playing against Bangladesh at home in October.
Batting at No. 5, Malik featured in the list of 2017′s top run-scorers. He stitched many handy stands with Babar and Ahmed Shehzad, and switched gears significantly in the death overs. Malik was in top form, and it is evident from his numbers: 273 runs in 10 matches at an average of 45.45 and strike rate 144.
Malik, here, comes in handy as an off-spinner too.
Miller became the fastest to slam a T20I hundred during a match against Bangladesh. He struck at a strike rate of 280.56 to enter the record books. He finished the year with an average of 30.66, mostly batting at No. 5 or 6. It is a vital position as the game changes in the end overs. Miller’s prowess ensured South Africa earn some one-sided encounters.
The recently appointed Sri Lanka’s limited-overs skipper features as an all-rounder. Perera averaged only 17.10 with the willow, but finished with an impressive strike rate of 158.33. In addition, Perera finished as the sixth highest wicket-taker with 13 scalps.
Did you know that Perera striked at 16.9 with the ball? He is one of the best among the top ten wicket-takers.
The Afghanistan spinner took giant strides in 2017. Rashid outfoxed batsmen with his unorthodox action, wrong’ uns and extra pace. He ended 2017 as the second highest wicket-taker. He scalped 17 wickets with the best average and economy rate of 9.41 and 4.57 respectively. His best figures of 5 for 3 in a rain-marred T20I versus Ireland was the icing on the cake.
Hasan had a ball this year. Apart from his heroics in Champions Trophy (13 wickets), he accounted for 12 scalps in T20Is. With an economy rate of 7.67, Hasan developed the knack of picking wickets at regular intervals. The most astonishing fact was that he was aware of what the batsmen were upto, and changed lengths accordingly.
Chahal started the year with a bang. He became the first Indian to attain a five-for. Once Chahal got going, there was no looking back. He maintained pressure, bowled on flat tracks and small venues, but did not deter his usual approach. Chahal kept searching for wickets and ended with 23 wickets, including two four-fors.
The feature of Chahal’s breakthroughs were that they came in crunch situations. He kept his nerves despite bowling in the death overs.
Note: Chahal used flight as his biggest weapon, apart from bowling outside off stump and keeping it short when required.
Bumrah ended with 12 wickets at an average of 20. In addition, he has the second best economy rate of 6.82 among pacers in the year. His slower ones, off cutters, toe-crunching yorkers were a treat to watch. The 24-year-old also added extra pace in his arsenal. Given his heroics, he has earned a place in the Test side for South Africa tour.
Bumrah’s finest performance came in the second of the three T20Is against England in January. He defended 8 off the final over against the likes of Joe Root and Jos Buttler.
12th man: Shadab Khan
Shadad had a wonderful year as well. After an impressive debut against West Indies, he became Sarfraz Ahmed’s go-to bowler. An aggressive spinner, with the ability to bat, missed out due to the enormous success by Chahal and Rashid. Nonetheless, Shadab is undoubtedly one of Pakistan cricket’s rising superstars in 2017.
Lastly, Imran Tahir was another leg-spinner who made a mark. He is among the top five wicket-takers, but missed out due to the youngsters earning more accolades.