Cricket in 2018: Best T20I XI of the year

It was the year of all-rounders and spinners in particular as they dominated the roost across continents.

Shikhar Dhawan
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Shikhar Dhawan. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Aayushman Vishwanathan
AAYUSHMAN VISHWANATHAN

Jr. Staff Writer

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Shikhar Dhawan
Shikhar Dhawan. (Photo Source: Twitter)

T20I cricket wasn’t the call of the year as most teams wanted to focus on ODIs given the World Cup is scheduled for 2019. However, there were 81 matches played around the world from the first day of the year until December 22 when Windies faced Bangladesh. Pakistan, Australia and India played most games – 19 each this year, while Bangladesh featured in 16 and World T20 champions Windies took the field on 15 occasions.

There were memorable matches, brilliant individual performances and some valiant efforts that went in vain. A few players shouldered most burden of the team – it was also the year of wrist spinners and all-rounders. The spin-bowling all-rounders were of high value for all the teams as they contribute more than just with the ball and prove to be game changers. Having witnessed all the action for the last 12 months we’ve compiled the best T20I XI for the year.

Here is the video of the Best T20 XI of the year 2018:

As a part of Cricket in 2018 – here is the best T20I XI of the year:

1. Shikhar Dhawan – India

Shikhar Dhawan
Shikhar Dhawan. (Photo Source: Twitter)

The left-hander has been one of the most consistent openers in white-ball cricket. Along with Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan has formed the most formidable top three for India among all limited-overs teams in the game at present.

The crafty left-hander from Delhi is known for his elegant stroke-making with an upright stance. Having played 18 T20Is in 2018, the 33-year-old slammed 690 runs at an average of almost 41. His ability to stand rock solid at the crease and adaptability in different conditions makes him a competent opener in the shortest format of the game.

A lot of times Dhawan even eclipsed his partner Rohit who is an amazing limited-overs batter himself. He has also carried on the innings, converting starts in to bigger totals which makes him a match winner.

2. Colin Munro – New Zealand

Colin Munro Flop ODI XI
Colin Munro. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Few players in T20 international cricket boast of numbers as rich as Colin Munro. The powerful left-hander became the first batsman to smash three centuries in T20 Internationals. Known to be profusely strong in square off the wicket, Munro has established himself along with Martin Guptill among the reliable big-hitters in the Black Caps squad.

Though his over-aggression has at times seen him gift his wicket away after a good start. He has the reputation of destroying any given bowling attack on his day. The Kiwi opener played 12 T20 internationals during the year and scored exactly 500 runs with a solitary hundred to his name.

He would be just the right partner for the dangerous Dhawan in the T20I XI of the year.

3. Babar Azam – Pakistan

Babar Azam
Babar Azam. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Babar Azam – answers all the calls the Pakistan batting unit made of late. He is stable, consistent, can anchor the innings and lead the batting charge as well. Babar has been one of the most consistent and a dependable batsmen in an otherwise volatile Pakistan batting line-up. Apart from succeeding in ODIs having scored three consecutive hundreds in 2017, the youngster also ruled the T20 format.

Currently, Babar tops the ICC rankings for batsmen in the shortest format in international cricket. The Lahore-born also surpassed Virat Kohli as the fastest batsman to get to 1000 runs in T20Is. He achieved the feat in 26 innings. 

For his contributions, the right-hander was also named as the man of the series in the home series against Australia for scoring a staggering 163 runs in just three T20Is. He will end 2018 with 563 runs in just 12 games at an average of 62.56.

4. Dinesh Karthik (wk) – India

Dinesh Karthik
Dinesh Karthik. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Dinesh Karthik is one of the most underrated T20 players today. The wicketkeeper-batsman has proved to be a very dependable middle-order batsman who can not only keep the scoreboard ticking but can also hit the big shots when in need.

The veteran produced an exhibition of clean hitting in the final of the Nidahas Trophy in 2018. The team needed 34 off the last two overs, India were all but staring at defeat against Bangladesh. The 34-year old slammed 22 off the penultimate over to bring down the equation to 12 needing off six balls.

They needed five off the last ball and Karthik milked a six over cover to give India a stunning win. He primarily played the role of a finisher in this year and scored 181 runs in 14 games at an average of 60. His glovework has fetched him seven catches along with three stumpings and will stand behind the stumps for the team.

5. Shoaib Malik – Pakistan

Shoaib Malik
Shoaib Malik. (Photo Source: Tharaka Basnayaka/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The veteran middle-order batsman is one of the most experienced and reliable batsmen in T20I cricket. The former Pakistan captain, in 2015 gave up the longer formats in a quest to prolong his limited-overs career. Shoaib Malik also became the first male cricketer to have featured in 100 T20 Internationals.

Malik has been decisive in the national team climbing to the top of the rankings. Along with his destructive hitting in the lower order and swift running between the wickets, Malik’s off-spin can also be a wicket-taking option. The 36-year old will head into the year 2019 having scored 369 runs in 16 games at a robust average of 41.

He lends experience as well as balance to the team thus being a vital member of this XI otherwise filled with explosive players.

6. Glenn Maxwell – Australia

Glenn Maxwell of Australia
Glenn Maxwell of Australia. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

Australia’s limited-overs specialist and one of the most destructive men with the bat, Glenn Maxwell has established himself as an automatic selection in the shortest format of the game. A very fine fielder, the all-rounder has the ability to clear the ropes in a ridiculously easy manner.

However, the Victorian has been slammed numerous times for not taking the time to settle in instead of going for the big shots straight away. The recklessness of Maxwell has cost the team few games in crucial junctures.

It still doesn’t take away the fact that the 30-year-old with his off-spin qualifies as among the country’s top all-rounders. Maxwell will end 2018, having scored a century in 19 games with 506 runs.

7. Shakib Al Hasan (C) – Bangladesh

Shakib Al Hasan
Shakib Al Hasan. (Photo Source: ISHARA S. KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images)

The Bangladeshi all-rounder is currently ranked second in ICC rankings for T20I all-rounders. A specialist all-rounder and a more than capable match-winner, Shakib has been the mainstay and carried the hopes of Bangladesh all these years to make them a competitive cricketing nation.

The 31-year-old, with his aggressive batting and a slow left-arm orthodox bowling has also won trophies in franchise cricket all over the world. The left-hander has accumulated 248 runs in 11 T20 internationals and collected 15 wickets at an average of 17 in 2018 and will serve as the captain of the side.

All-rounders add flavour to a T20I team and Shakib is certainly a must starter in any team given the value he brings to the table with both bat and ball.

8. Rashid Khan – Afghanistan

Rashid Khan
Rashid Khan. (Photo Source: Twitter)

The No. 1 ranked T20I bowler is an obvious choice in any line-up and the young leggie has done exceptionally well and proved to be the team’s trump card. Rashid Khan has accumulated tons of experience in T20 cricket in a very short span, having played in almost all of the countries and that host a franchise cricket league.

Apart from bamboozling batsmen with his rippers, the 20-year old is also a dangerous batsman down the order and serves as the vice-captain of Afghanistan. He is one of the few who give their 100% on the field while bowling, batting or even with his ground fielding.

In just eight matches this year, the leggie has bagged 22 wickets at an impressive average of 8.68. He also has a spectacular economy rate of 6.37.

9. Shadab Khan – Pakistan

Shadab Khan
Shadab Khan. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Shadab Khan shone during the 2016/17 season as a teenager and was immediately labelled as the greatest Pakistani prospect for the shortest format. He was fast-tracked into the national teams and hasn’t looked back since then. Along with getting the batsmen into trouble by bowling the wrong un frequently the 20-year-old is quite athletic on the field and capable of turning it on in the death overs through his bat.

His meteoric rise continued this year in all formats. As wrist spinners have enjoyed better success than any other class of bowlers at the highest level. During Pakistan’s rollicking year and a dream run in T20 internationals, the leggie contributed with 28 wickets in 19 games at an average of just over 17.

10. Andrew Tye – Australia

Andrew Tye
Andrew Tye of Australia celebrates. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Australia is a country known for producing fast bowlers of uncompromising quality but in recent times, there has been a slight decline in the emergence of frontline medium fast bowlers. Andrew Tye earned prominence with his rich vein of form from in the Big Bash League to flummox the international arena.

Tye had a forgettable outing in his first T20 international, having been belted for plenty of runs. However, he did exceptionally well in the tri-series against England and New Zealand, taking 10 wickets. His knuckleball and variations in the death overs has been hard to get away with.

Though expensive at times he makes up for it with the wickets, the 31-year-old will finish 2018 having taken 31 wickets in 19 games at an economy rate of 8.57.

11. Billy Stanlake – Australia

Billy Stanlake of Australia
Billy Stanlake of Australia. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

Stanlake was called in to make his international debut when he was not even 10 games old in the whole of his domestic career. He did make a mark in the Big Bash League, however, had featured in only two first-class games and four one-day games.

Although the tallest pacer ever to represent Australia had a relatively disappointing and an unfortunate start to his career, the speedster came back strongly in the Trans-Tasman tri-series, taking three wickets. The towering quick’s unusual height and rapid pace has combined created troubles for the batsmen and made him a strike bowler for the team.

The Aussie has played 16 T20I matches this year, snapping 25 scalps, and attained his best bowling figures of 4/8 against Pakistan.

Kuldeep Yadav (12th man) – India

Kuldeep Yadav
Kuldeep Yadav. (Photo Source: Twitter)

One of the two frontline leg-spinners from India has been named as the 12th man in the team. Kuldeep Yadav’s performance has been hard to ignore and the mystery leg-spinner ripped apart batting line-ups in Australia, England, and South Africa in the current year.

The dominant English team was totally clueless in the first T20 international against India in 2018. The leggie took his first five-wicket haul in the shortest format of the game as the visitors floored England in that game. The 24-year-old was equally impressive in Australia, curbing the flow of runs and creating the pressure with his tight line while the other bowlers claimed the wickets.

Having played nine T20 internationals in 2018, Kuldeep finished with 21 wickets at a stunning average of under 10.

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