The eighth T20 World Cup begins this weekend in Oman and the United Arab Emirates, with the finest players in the world vying for the title and the spotlight. While the world has already heard of Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli, and Babar Azam, there will undoubtedly be new worldwide superstars released.
Here’s a list of six people who are likely to have a big role to play.
Ishan Kishan: Indian ‘Master’
India has had its fair share of Little Masters, and they may have discovered another in Kishan, who is at 5’6″ (1.68m). In March, the small left-hander made his international T20 debut against England, scoring 56 off 32 balls, outscoring his skipper Virat Kohli, who stood at the other end, smiling. The 23-year-old struggled throughout the IPL and was benched by Mumbai for a while, but he came back to smash 50 not out against Rajasthan and 84 off 32 balls against Hyderabad, providing the perfect warm-up for the World Cup.
Haider Ali: Pakistani plunderer
Three months ago, it appeared that big-hitting Haider would miss the World Cup after being recalled from Pakistan’s squad to tour England and the West Indies after violating Covid-19 rules in the UAE. But the 21-year-old middle-order batsman was given a reprieve after his performance in Pakistan’s National T20 Cup, which included three undefeated half-centuries. Northern’s unbeaten 91 off 53 balls against Central Punjab’s Babar Azam last month may have helped – it never hurts to impress the skipper.
Tymal Mills: English speedster
Mills, one of the best ‘death’ bowlers in the game, has been returned to the England team for the T20 World Cup after a four-and-a-half-year absence. After suffering a back injury when he was 22, the Sussex fast bowler gave up first-class cricket and the chance of a Test cap to concentrate only on T20 cricket. Mills, who surpasses 90 mph (145 kph) on a consistent basis, shone in the Blast and the Hundred in 2021, earning a call-up to replace another injured speedster, Jofra Archer.
Glenn Phillips: 800 press-ups
T20 crowds love to see sixes, which is why Phillips, a Kiwi hitter bred in South Africa, has piqued their interest. This year, the 24-year-old big-hitter, who likes to do 800 press-ups a day, has been tearing up the ropes in the Blast, the Hundred, the CPL, and most recently the IPL, where he represented Rajasthan. Phillips, a wicketkeeper by trade, has remade himself as an off-spinner and will be one of the fielders to keep an eye on at the boundary.
Hazratullah Zazai: Afghanistan hope
With the world’s attention drawn to Afghanistan for all the wrong reasons, Zazai is under pressure to demonstrate the effervescent talent of his players. The 23-year-old is all about the money. He made history three years ago when he struck Abdullah Mazari for six sixes in an over during a local T20 tournament, completing his 50 in just 12 balls. In just his sixth T20I, he recreated that style of batting by smashing a record 16 sixes in an undefeated 162 off 62 balls against Ireland.