Kieron Pollard picks his top five T20 players
Tasked to choose the top players he'd have in his World T20 XI, Pollard ended up with five names that would give any hypothetical five-a-side T20 team a run for its money. Choosing an explosive opener, an astute wicket-keeper batter, a jack-of-all-trades all-rounder, a wily spinner and a fiery pacer, the shrewd West Indies captain had all bases covered.
Here's a run-down of Kieron Pollard's picks and what makes them special.
1. Chris Gayle
Almost unsurprisingly, Chris Gayle was Kieron Pollard's No.1 pick.
Even at the ripe young age of 42 years, few batters in world cricket send shivers down the spine of the bowlers like Gayle does. A globetrotter in franchise league cricket, The Universe Boss has left his mark in every part of the world with his explosive batting.
His envious numbers in T20 cricket speak for themself - 446 matches, 14261 runs at an average of 36.94 and strike rate of 145.87, 22 centuries with a high score of 175*.
As far as international T20s are concerned, Gayle got the ball rolling with a smashing century in the very first game of the inaugural T20 World Cup in 2007. He was also part of the West Indies side that won the 2012 and 2016 World Cups.
In the upcoming ICC Men's T20 World Cup, West Indies captain Pollard will be hoping that Gayle can set the stage on fire and help guide the team to World Cup glory for the third time.
2. Lasith Malinga
Pollard's next pick was Sri Lanka's Lasith Malinga.
Considered one of the greatest limited-overs bowlers of all time, Malinga was the cornerstone of the Sri Lankan attack for 16 years. His unconventional, irreplicable round-arm action set him apart right from the start and made it difficult for batters to negotiate his overs.
With 390 wickets in 295 games at an average of under 20 and an economy of just over 7 in T20s, Malinga was almost always the go-to bowler for all his teams in the shortest format.
At the international stage, Malinga is the highest wicket-taker in men's T20I history with 107 to his name. The crowning moment of his career came in 2014 when he led Sri Lanka to their maiden T20 World Cup title.
The King of Yorkers, as he is known the world over, called time on his playing career on 15 September 2021.
3. Sunil Narine
After choosing a batter and a pacer, Pollard named his compatriot Sunil Narine for the spinner's role.
Narine started to make waves in the early 2010s and quickly became one of the most sought-after players in T20 cricket. Often trusted to bowl the difficult overs, be it in the Powerplays or at the death, his mystery spin left batters bamboozled.
In the shortest format of the game, Narine has the third-most wickets in the world, only bettered by Imran Tahir and Dwayne Bravo. Over the years, he has also turned out to be a more than handy batter who has opened the innings for various teams as a pinch hitter.
He was one of the architects of West Indies' maiden T20 World Cup triumph in 2012. Bowling at a miserly economy of 5.63, he picked up 9 wickets in six games, including a fantastic 3/9 in the Final that restricted Sri Lanka to 101 all out while chasing 137.
Despite going through several changes in action, Narine is still going strong and has found a way to keep the batters on their toes.
4. MS Dhoni
To don the gloves behind the stumps and for the role of the finisher, Pollard picked former India captain, MS Dhoni.
Despite his unorthodox keeping technique, Dhoni is considered one of the finest and quickest glovemen in cricket. With 185 catches and 84 stumpings, he tops the charts for most dismissals in T20 cricket. With the bat in hand, Dhoni has scored 6861 runs at an average of 38.54 and a strike rate of 134.82.
Considered one of the smartest brains to have played the game, he led India to glory in every format of the game, the start of which came in 2007 when India won the inaugural T20 World Cup.
5. Kieron Pollard
"If it is my World XI T20, then I've got to be there, I have got to play. My records speak for itself when it comes to T20 cricket," said Pollard as he named himself to complete the five.
Despite making his debut in 2006, it wasn't until 2009 that Pollard caught the attention of the world. Ever since he has become synonymous with T20 cricket and has become a serial winner in franchise cricket as well as international cricket.
Known for his brutal hitting, Pollard is the second most prolific batter in men's T20 cricket, second only to Chris Gayle, despite batting lower down the order. With the ball in hand, Pollard has 298 wickets to his name, making him an ideal T20 player to have in any team.
Having been a part of the West Indies squad that won the World Cup in 2012, Pollard will be itching to get his hands on the trophy once again, this time as the leader of the pack.