10 dark horses to look out for in World T20

The Express Tribune takes a look at players who live and perform under the shadow of superstars


Azeem Siddiqui March 15, 2016
PHOTO: AFP/ICC

The 2016 World T20 is ready to enter Super10s and fans are gearing up for exciting times ahead. The event will feature 10 teams, divided into two groups.

In Group 1, defending champions Sri Lanka are placed alongside 2010 winners England, 2012 winners West Indies, number three ranked South Africa and the minnows, Afghanistan.

In Group 2, hosts and inaugural World T20 champions India are placed alongside 2015 ODI World Cup winners Australia, a new-face New Zealand, 2009 World T20 champions Pakistan and the runners-up of the recently concluded Asia Cup, Bangladesh.

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The Express Tribune takes a look at the dark horse in each of the 10 teams; those who remain in the shadows of superstars but can take the game away from the opposition on their day.

Mohammad Nabi (Afghanistan):
PHOTO COURTESY: ICC

The intelligent all-rounder will be an important asset for the Afghans as they get ready to take on the giants in their group.

The 31-year-old has represented Afghanistan in 41 T20Is, where he scored 586 runs at an average of 17.23 and picked up 41 wickets at an average of 24.95.

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In his last T20 innings, the all-rounder scored match-winning 52 off just 32 balls to help his side reach the Super10s stage.

Asghar Stenakzai’s men will be hoping to see more good performances from Nabi who can guide them to a surprise victory or two in the tournament.

Mitchell Marsh (Australia):
PHOTO: AFP

Australian all-rounder Mitchell Marsh will be the player for the Kangaroos to provide them breakthroughs with the ball and give some extra runs at the back of the innings with his blazing hitting.

The 24-year-old became a permanent part of the playing eleven in the last year, and has already represented the Kangaroos seven times in T20Is. He has scored 103 runs at an average 25.75 and also picked up three wickets.

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Steve Smith will hope that Marsh, along with James Faulkner and Nathan Coulternile, will provide much-needed balance to the side in Australia search for their first ever World T20 glory.

Sabbir Rehman (Bangladesh):
PHOTO: AFP

With many terming him ‘the next best thing’, Bangladesh’s Sabbir Rahman will be the one to look out for during the tournament. The 24-year-old made his T20I debut in February 2014 and has already scored 529 runs in 21 innings at an average of just a little over 33.

The right-handed batsman was awarded the man-of-the-series award in the recently-concluded Asia Cup where he led his team to a famous victory over Sri Lanka, which paved the way for Mashrafee Mortaza’s men to reach the final.

The Asia Cup finalists will be hoping that Sabbir can once again show the world his real talent, and live up to his potential at the biggest stage of all.

Jos Buttler (England):
PHOTO: AFP

England’s vice-captain and wicketkeeper-batsman Jos Buttler will remain a player to watch in the ICC World T20.

The 25-year-old has represented the Three Lions in 42 T20Is, where he scored 648 runs at an average of 23.14.

The Melbourne Renegades wicketkeeper-batsman scored two 30s and a 50 while leading to this tournament in the last four innings. Captain Eoin Morgan will be hoping to see his star man continue his prime form throughout the tournament so that England will be able to repeat the 2010 history, where they won the World T20 after beating Australia in the final.

Hardik Pandya (India):
PHOTO: AFP

Hardik Pandya is being called by many the last piece of the puzzle, which makes India the favourites to lift their second World T20 trophy, and that too on their home ground.

The 22-year-old who recently made his debut against Australia at Adelaide has the capacity to bowl 140 kmph and is also handy down the order in batting.

The Mumbai Indians all-rounder has already picked 10 wickets in 11 matches at an impressive average of 21.70 and at an economy rate of just over seven.

Mahindra Singh Dhoni will be backing this youngster to shine at the global stage in home conditions.

Colin Munro (New Zealand):
PHOTO: AFP

The explosive left-hander from Durban is one dark horse that the New Zealand team management will be banking on, specially after the departure of Brendon McCullum.

The 29-year-old has so far represented Kiwis in 23 T20Is and has scored 382 runs at an average of 25.46 and at a whopping strike rate 159.16.

In his last four innings leading to the tournament, Munro scored two 50s and a 30 at a strike rate of 207, 357 and 138.

Newly-appointed captain Kane Williamson will be hoping Munro will be able to continue his good form with the bat, which could help the Black Caps to their first ever World T20 trophy.

Imad Wasim (Pakistan):
PHOTO: AFP

Imad entered the Pakistan team when the Men in Green were having a hard time finding the right balance, which was disturbed following the ban on Mohammad Hafeez’s bowling.

His presence gained more importance for team Pakistan when he played a crucial role in an unlikely victory against Sri Lanka in the second T20; he hit a winning six to take Shahid Afridi’s men home in the Island.

His performance has dipped a bit in the last few months and he did not take part in the Asia Cup where the Men in Green were knocked out after facing defeats against arch-rivals India and hosts Bangladesh.

However, in the only warm-up match before the Super10s, the 27-year-old managed to bowl a match-winning spell and picked four wickets against Sri Lanka, eventually cementing his place in the playing eleven.

Captain Shahid Afridi and team management will be hoping that the Karachi Kings all-rounder is able to continue his good form if Pakistan are to salvage any chance of winning the tournament.

Kagiso Rabada (South Africa):
PHOTO: AFP

Young Kagiso Rabada emerged onto the scene when South Africa visited Bangladesh last year, but never looked like a player who would stay in the shadow of the likes of Dale Steyn.

Since then, the 20-year-old has produced more than a few match-winning performances for the Proteas throughout all formats.

He has already represented South Africa in 13 T20Is and picked 17 wickets at an impressive average of 21.94. Captain Faf du Plessis will be banking on this youngster to once again produce those match-winning performances in the absence of Morne Morkel and a recovering Dale Steyn.

Lahiru Thirimanne (Sri Lanka):
PHOTO: AFP

Lahiru Thirimanne was selected late on the last day of the submission of the squad for ICC World T20 as he was dropped by the former selection committee for the Asia Cup.

However, Lanka’s dismal show in the Asia Cup, where they only managed to win one out of four matches, led to the dismissal of the selection committee, which in-turn paved way for the 26-year-old’s selection in the team.

So far, Thirimanne’s performance for the Islanders in the T20 format has been nothing less than disappointing; he only managed to score 277 runs in 16 innings at an average of 19.78, with highest score of 44.

Captain Angelo Mathews will be hoping that the left-hander is able to do justice with his talent and score some precious runs for the defending World T20 champions.

Marlon Samuels (West Indies):
PHOTO COURTESY: ICC

In a squad dominated by franchise cricket superstars, including the likes of Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo, Darren Sammy and Andre Russell, Marlon Samuels will always miss the limelight but will remain an integral part of their campaign.

The 35-year-old was the man-of-the-match in the final of the 2012 World T20 final, where he smashed Sri Lanka’s Lasith Malinga for five sixes in eleven balls en route 78 off just 56 balls.

The former Pune Warrior all-rounder has played 40 T20Is for his national team and scored 952 runs at an average of 28.84 and also picked up 19 wickets with his part-time spin.

If the 2012 World T20 champions want to relive their Gangnam celebrations, then Samuels will have to fire for them from the word go.

COMMENTS (1)

Ahsan Arshad | 5 years ago | Reply Imad Wasim was born in Wales, United Kingdom and not in Islamabad as has been reported.
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