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Picking Every World T20 Team's Game-Changing Player

Alex TelferFeatured ColumnistMarch 26, 2014

Picking Every World T20 Team's Game-Changing Player

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    Aijaz Rahi/Associated Press

    What do the likes of Viv Richards, Virender Sehwag, Ian Botham, Shane Warne, Freddie Flintoff, Brian Lara, Sanath Jayasuriya, Allan Donald, Kevin Pietersen etc. have in common?

    Kevin Pietersen empties bars when he bats. Andrew Strauss filled them. End. @KP24

    — Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) September 28, 2013

    As Piers Morgan intimates about his pal KP, they are part of a select group of players capable of dramatically changing games single-handedly and quickly.

    This is a list of every World T20 Cup nation's premier game-changing player, ranked in ascending order for their ability to impact proceedings.

    *Statistics based on all T20 cricket and not just T20 internationals.

Netherlands: Tom Cooper

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    A.M. Ahad/Associated Press

    Innings: 57

    Runs: 1146

    Average: 24.91

    Strike rate: 130.97

    Despite the controversy surrounding his appearance at the T20 World Cup, Tom Cooper remains one of the few Netherlands players who can make an impact against the big boys.

    Holland's Aussie hero, who qualifies to wear the orange shirt through his mother, can score at a rapid rate, as Ireland will testify after witnessing the 27-year-old's 45 off 15 balls recently.

Bangladesh: Shakib Al Hasan

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    A.M. Ahad/Associated Press

    Matches: 124

    Runs: 1999

    Average: 19.79

    Strike rate: 128.55

    Wickets: 160

    Economy rate: 6.51

    For a time, Tamim Iqbal was Bangladesh's go-to man, but over the last few years the opener has been eclipsed by the massively talented Shakib Al Hasan.

    In fact, the all-rounder, who is arguably the Tigers' greatest-ever player, is capable of winning matches with both his accurate left-arm spin bowling and also his silky aggressive batting.

New Zealand: Corey Anderson

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    Gareth Copley/Getty Images

    Innings: 24

    Runs: 298

    Average: 13.54

    Strike rate: 127.35

    Breaking the record for the fastest-ever ODI century was enough to launch Corey Anderson into the big time, and the 36-ball assault also secured him a lucrative IPL contract with the Mumbai Indians.

    It's still early days (he's yet to score a T20 half-century), but the 23-year-old all-rounder is such a dangerous hitter that he has replaced the increasingly fragile Brendon McCullum as New Zealand's primary game-changer.

England: Jos Buttler

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    Michael Dodge/Getty Images

    Innings: 89

    Runs: 1714

    Average: 25.58

    Strike rate: 141.30 

    With more explosive shots than the Coyote Ugly bar and in the absence of Kevin Pietersen, Buttler has recently usurped the out-of-form Eoin Morgan as England's main T20 danger man. 

    An incredible range of instinctive individual shots enable the 21-year-old to score at an incredible rate towards the end of innings.

Sri Lanka: Lasith Malinga

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    Michael Dodge/Getty Images

    Matches: 177

    Wickets: 239

    Average: 17.83

    Economy rate: 6.62

    While Lasith Malinga's hair continues to get wilder, his rapid, often unplayable, toe-crunching yorkers—delivered from almost behind the umpire's head—prove lethal for even the best batsmen. 

    The 30-year-old has bagged 239 career T20 wickets so far to make him the format's all-time leading wicket-taker and Sri Lanka's game-changer-in-chief.

India: MS Dhoni

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    Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images

    Innings: 147

    Runs: 3494

    Average: 35.65

    Strike rate: 134.69

    India's inspirational skipper, MS Dhoni is capable of winning and or saving games of cricket whatever the situation.

    Whether it's putting the icing on the cake in the last few overs of an innings or expertly managing a difficult run chase, the wicketkeeper's cool head and wide range of shots make him brutally effective.

Australia: Glenn Maxwell

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    Scott Barbour/Getty Images

    Innings: 59

    Runs: 1122

    Average: 22.44

    Strike rate: 152.65 

    The self-styled Big Show might rub a few people up the wrong way, but Glenn Maxwell's ability to score big runs quickly can't be denied. 

    After making the headlines for fetching a $1million price in the 2013 IPL, then proceeding to spend most of the tournament carrying the drinks, the Australian has produced an array of blistering innings in the BBL and international stage lately.

     

Pakistan: Shahid Afridi

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    A.M. Ahad/Associated Press

    Matches: 143

    Runs: 2216

    Average: 19.78

    Strike rate: 152.82

    Wickets: 168

    Economy rate: 6.56

    He may be erratic, but Shahid Afridi is one of those cricketers that you can't take your eyes off whenever he is involved in the game with both bat and ball.

    "Boom Boom" famously blasted a 37-ball ton in just his second ODI appearance aged just 16 years old. And not a lot has changed about his approach to batting since.

South Africa: Dale Steyn

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    Gareth Copley/Getty Images

    Matches: 134

    Wickets: 157

    Average: 20.74

    Economy rate: 6.41

    Perhaps the most intimidating thing about facing the hostile pace barrages of Dale Steyn is the intense psychotic glare psyching out the batsman before, during and after each delivery. 

    South Africa's paceman has bowled many sensational crucial overs towards the end of games, none more so than the one against New Zealand at the T20 World Cup recently.

West Indies: Chris Gayle

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    Scott Barbour/Getty Images

    Matches: 158

    Runs: 5931

    Average: 43.61

    Strike rate: 150.03

    Although Sunil Narine is perhaps the West Indies "secret" weapon, the name of Chris Gayle at the top of the order sends shivers down the opposition's spines. Particularly the bowlers. 

    Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the powerful left-hander's ability in the shortest form of the game is the consistency that's allowed him to maintain such an incredible average and strike rate over 158 games.

     

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