T20 WC 2021: Team of the tournament

Sixteen teams battled it out over 45 matches over the course of four weeks in the sweltering heat of the United Arab Emirates to determine the winner of the coveted T20 World Cup title. While a plethora of players put in notable performances across the tournament’s thrilling and high-quality contests, some stood out for their consistency and impact.

Sportstar’s Team of the Tournament for the T20 Word Cup 2021:

Jos Buttler

The swashbuckling opener set the tournament ablaze with his run tally of 269 amassed at a staggering strike rate of 151.12. In a fitting display of grit and power, Buttler’s blistering 67-ball ton against Sri Lanka came after he plodded to his slowest T20I fifty off 45 balls in the same innings to help England recover from 35 for three. This sagacity was preceded by a 32-ball 71 rampage in a paltry chase of 126 against Australia in which he didn’t even spare the ever-economical Adam Zampa. Averaging 89.66 and topping the sixes chart with 13 strikes, Buttler’s consistency and heft in the top order set up England’s dominant run.

READ: Australia completes T20 World Cup conquest

David Warner

After being snubbed unceremoniously by Sunrisers Hyderabad in the IPL and registering scores of 0 and 1 in the warm-ups, Warner roared to form with an unbeaten 89 off 56 balls against West Indies which helped Australia all but seal a semifinal spot. His 289 runs – the second most in the tournament – at a strike rate of 146.70, earned Warner the Player of the Tournament medallion and Australia its maiden T20 silverware. The left-hander delivered when it mattered the most, scoring 49 and 53 in the semifinal and final after the team lost skipper Aaron Finch early in pursuit of 170 plus on both occasions.

Babar Azam

Consistency was second nature to Pakistan skipper Babar Azam who top-scored with 303 runs and struck four fifties and a 30-plus in six innings. Debuting at the T20 extravaganza, Babar set the tournament alight with an unbeaten 68 in a 10-wicket victory over arch-rival India. An elegant strokemaker, Babar struck at 126.25 and stitched two century opening stands and a 71-run partnership in the semifinal with fellow-opener Mohammad Rizwan to lay a strong foundation for the middle-order. Babar broke the record for the most runs in a debut T20 World Cup while his four fifties saw him equal the record of most half-centuries in a single edition.

Charith Asalanka

Heading into the tournament with three T20Is under his belt, Asalanka led the run charts among middle-order batters in the tournament with 231 runs from six matches. The left-hander averaged 46.20 and struck at 147.13 to prove his mettle as anchor and aggressor. His unbeaten 80 off 49 balls against Bangladesh was a case in point, where he stemmed the flow of wickets and accumulated runs before teeing off at the death to guide Sri Lanka home in a thrilling run-chase. Asalanka also chipped in with useful contributions after Sri Lanka consistently lost the early wicket and signed off with a match-winning 41-ball 68 against West Indies.

Mitchell Marsh

An injury-ridden career that didn’t seem to live up to its potential since its T20I debut in 2011 finally came of age in Australia’s moment of reckoning. Marsh played with the flair and ease of a finisher in the crucial number three slot, notching 185 runs at a strike rate of 146.82. His 32-ball 53 against West Indies staved off an upset to Australia’s semifinal bid before his rescue act with Warner in the semifinal held off a rampant Pakistan. He stood tall and unbeaten on 77 at the non-strike’s end in the final as Glenn Maxwell, who had never “seen anyone hit the ball better” than Marsh, sealed the winning runs.

READ: Tour diary: A taste of opulence, a test of patience

Moeen Ali

Cast to perfection in the T20 mould, Moeen Ali’s ability to float around in the batting order and consistently deliver four overs of quality spin lent balance to the English side in the tournament. He mastered the unenviable art of bowling off-spin in the Powerplay, taking five of his seven wickets during that phase at a spectacular economy of 5.72. In the middle-order, Ali held his own to soak the pressure of early blows before shifting gears. He struck at 131.42 and signed off with an unbeaten 37-ball fifty in the semifinal that helped England to a competitive 166.

James Neesham

Despite not accruing spellbinding numbers in the tournament, Neesham’s underappreciated cameos at 175.51 played a crucial hand in New Zealand’s run to the summit clash. His 11-ball 27 in the semifinal set up Daryl Mitchell’s thrilling heist while he saved Kiwis the blushes against Namibia with a 23-ball 35 that lifted them to a respectable total. The 31-year-old dutifully went about his task as a sixth bowler, chipping in at an economical 7.36 while also picking three wickets with his medium pace. Destructive with the bat from the word go, efficient with the ball and electric in the field, Neesham furtively ironed out the creases in the Black Caps’ campaign

Wanindu Hasaranga

The talismanic all-rounder’s exploits were the cornerstone of young Sri Lanka’s impressive run in the tournament. Hasaranga’s leg spin topped the bowling charts with 16 wickets and an economy of 5.20. The 24-year-old bowled with control and aggression across phases, picking five wickets at a stupendous three runs an over in the Powerplay while giving away only five runs per over at the death with as many wickets, including a hat-trick. His 119 runs with the bat at 148.75 in the lower-middle order included a face-saving 47-ball 71 against Ireland and a valiant 34 off 21 that reignited a dead run-chase versus England.

Adam Zampa

Zampa was tasked with the tall order of marshalling Australia’s spin department, and the diminutive 29-year-old did it in style. With 13 wickets at a frugal 5.81, Zampa topped the wickets charts in the Super 12 stage and registered the tournament’s best bowling figures of 5 for 19 to skittle Bangladesh for 73. He dominated key passages of play in the knockout matches, dismissing Babar in the semifinal to curtail an ominous opening stand. In the final, he showed heart by removing Martin Guptill with a tossed-up delivery just as New Zealand was eyeing a shift in momentum.

Anrich Nortje

The speedster from South Africa displayed an array of skills with the ball to scalp nine wickets from five matches in the tournament. His pace and bounce combined to keep his economy to just 5.37 in the Powerplay while his accuracy at the death saw him clinch the Player of the Match award against West Indies despite taking just one wicket for 14 runs in four overs. Nortje routinely put the noose in the middle overs by conceding at just 3.71 during that phase and was the silent architect of South Africa’s unanticipated resurgence in the tournament that was struck down prematurely by the cruelty of the Net Run Rate.

Trent Boult

Boult went about the most thankless job of bowling in the Powerplay and the death with a chilling smile and emerged from the ordeal unharmed. The highest wicket-taker among pacers in the tournament, Boult’s 13 scalps came at just 6.25 runs an over despite the left-armer bowling 23.4 of his 27.4 overs in the first six overs or at the death. Boult’s swing and verve earned New Zealand early breakthroughs before his variations in pace foxed the batters at the death. Even as Warner and Marsh marched on towards the title in the final unchallenged, the Kiwi pace spearhead pushed the inevitable with a clinical 2 for 18 in four overs.

Josh Hazlewood (12th man)

Forged in the cauldron of Chennai Super Kings in the IPL, the T20 World Cup was a breakout for the Australian seamer’s limited-overs career. His persistent hard lengths outside off – a relic of his red-ball prowess – adapted with the knuckle ball, saw Hazlewood pick 11 wickets, the second most by a pacer and an Australian at the event. While his best bowling figures of four for 39 came against the West Indies, his three for 16 in the final averted further damage by Williamson and Co. In hindsight, his unheralded transition from third seamer to pace spearhead was as seamless as his evolution from the red cherry to the white ball.

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