Picking an all-time T20 XI is like a game of chess. The first few moves are very easy. Chris Gayle and Lasith Malinga are almost always the first two moves. Perhaps the best batsman and the best bowler ever in the format.
But, T20 cricket has been played for almost two decades now. There has been a wide range of formats, from domestic leagues to international games. Some of the greatest T20 franchise teams include the Mumbai Indians, the Perth Scorchers and the Titans.
The West Indies have been a revelation in T20 cricket on the international stage. Their attitude and drama have set the world alight.
So, with all that in mind, who makes an all-time T20 XI?
The Openers :
Chris Gayle is undoubtedly the best ever batsman in T20 Cricket. He has scored over 10000 runs in the format and in his peak demolished bowlers like no batsman had prior to or has since. His consistency, while playing massive innings is mind-boggling.
In 404 T20s, Chris Gayle averages 38.20 at a very impressive strike rate of 146.94. He has dominated T20 competitions worldwide, including the Indian Premier League, the Caribbean Premier League and the Big Bash League.
It was incredibly tough to leave out Shane Watson from this all-time T20 XI, given the amount that he has won and his bowling ability. But David Warner has just been ridiculously consistent in T20 Cricket.
Warner single-handedly helped the Sunrisers Hyderabad to their first IPL title in 2016. In 17 games he scored 848 runs at a batting average of 61 and at a strike rate of 151. He scored half-centuries in both the semi-final and the final.
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The Middle-Order :
Virat Kohli at no. 3
The epitome of consistency, Virat Kohli has redefined how much one should average in T20 Cricket. In the past, players did not take much into their T20 average and were inconsistent in the format.
Kohli has changed all that. Kohli averages 51 in International T20 Cricket and 41 overall in T20 Cricket. These numbers are the highest for any player on this list. His strike rate is solid as well – 138 for India and 134 overall.
AB De Villiers at no. 4
The modern-day 360 batsman, AB De Villiers has provided entertainment like few others. His ability to hit the ball all-round the ground and in otherwise rare areas has revolutionised T20 batting.
In 311 T20s, AB De Villiers has scored 8708 runs at a batting average of 37 and at a strike rate of 150. Those numbers are virtually the same as Chris Gayle, just proving how good he is and that he deserves to be in an all-time T20 XI.
Kieron Pollard at no. 5
Kieron Pollard has played the most T20 matches in the history of the format. Pollard has played an astounding 514 games for his country and his various franchises. The ultimate T20 player in that sense. Pollard has been one of the ambassadors of T20 Cricket.
Pollard is a hard-hitting batsman, who can adapt his batting to suit the team’s needs. He has the ability to finish off games with the bat but can also play the anchor role if required. In 514 games, Pollard has scored over 10,000 runs with the bat at an average of 31 and a strike rate of 151.
MS Dhoni (C & WK) at no. 6
The finisher. Captain Cool.
MS Dhoni has been and still is a revelation in T20 Cricket. Dhoni has won the Indian Premier League three times with the Chennai Super Kings as captain. He won the first ever World T20 with India as captain in 2007. He has redefined T20 captaincy and the role of the finisher.
His batting and power is just awesome. Dhoni has the ability to finish off tight games and also win games from nowhere at the death. He also has the capability to bat slowly and pace and innings if required. As a finisher, he is amongst the best that has ever played the game.
Dhoni is a smart captain and a patient captain. He believes in his team and creates such an atmosphere that those who play under him thrive more often than not. He has lightning-fast reflexes as a wicket keeper and also perhaps the best behind the stumps.
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The All-Rounders :
Dre Russ is perhaps the best all-rounder in the history of T20 Cricket. He bats, he bowls and he fields brilliantly. Russell has won just about every competition in the world in this format, be it with the West Indies at the World T20 or in the Bangladesh Premier League.
Andre Russell has played 331 T20s and scored nearly 6000 runs at a batting average of 27. These are good numbers, without being great. However, his strike rate elevates him to a different level. Andre Russell strikes at nearly 170 in T20 Cricket on average, which is quite stupendous.
Dwyane Bravo is the highest wicket-taker in T20 history. Bravo has taken 506 wickets. For context, Lasith Malinga is second and he has only taken 390 wickets. Bravo is the greatest bowling all-rounder in T20 Cricket.
His main skill with the ball is the ability to close out tight games. This is a superb skill to possess, since T20 games can be changed in a single over. Bravo has an accurate yorker and a brilliant slower ball that can deceive batsmen. He uses them to great effect to restrict runs and pick up wickets.
A two-time World T20 winner with the West Indies. A two-time IPL winner with the Chennai Super Kings. A winner with pretty much every franchise that he has represented. Dwyane Bravo has been incredibly successful in T20 Cricket.
Sunil Narine slots in at number nine in our all-time T20 XI. In the past few years, he has been able to bat at the top of the order destructively. He has scored over 2000 T20 runs at a batting average of 15 and at a strike rate of 147.
However, his bowling has been and still is by far his stronger suit. In 342 T20’s, Narine has picked up 386 wickets at a bowling average of 20 and a superb economy rate of just 6. He has won the World T20 with the West Indies in 2012 and has also played a major role in two IPL wins with the Kolkata Knight Riders in 2012 and 2014.
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The Bowlers :
A toss-up between Imran Tahir and Rashid Khan. Tahir just about wins due to his experience but Rashid Khan will likely be the second spinner in a T20 XI in the future.
Imran Tahir has an extraordinary T20 record, considering that he started playing a lot of games at a much later stage in his career, rather than starting off as a T20 specialist.
In 295 T20’s Lasith Malinga has picked up 390 wickets at a bowling average of 20 and at an economy of just 7. It would not be far-fetched to say that he is perhaps the greatest bowler in the history of T20 Cricket.
His slingy action, aligned with the fact that he had almost the perfect yorker and a smashing slower ball, made him unplayable in his pomp. Malinga can bowl with the new ball and at the death and has defended many totals in the past.
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