The game’s biggest names are primed to set the global showpiece alight.
David Miller (South Africa)
What a difference a year (and a great coach) can make. It’s worth remembering that Miller wasn’t snapped up until deep into the two-day IPL auction. However, his magic was irrepressible and it felt fitting that he was at the crease when the Gujarat Titans won the IPL. He was dismissed just seven times in 16 innings and was often the reason his team posted or chased down imposing scores.
It wasn’t that long ago that his IPL future hung in the balance when the Kings XI Punjab released him in 2019 and he played just one match for the Rajasthan Royals in 2020. But he has found his home at the Gujarat Titans and, under the tutelage of Gary Kirsten, was one of the tournament’s most dangerous batsmen. His form transcended the IPL, carrying into his international efforts.
At 33, Miller has become the devastating finisher many predicted he’d be at 23. It’s been worth the wait.
David Warner (Australia)
The big-hitting batsman will be key to Australia’s attempt to secure back-to-back titles after they claimed their maiden T20 World Cup in the UAE last year.
The explosive opener made 289 runs including three half-centuries at the 2021 World Cup, helping to defy pundits who had all but written off the team.
The 35-year-old Warner has had a patchy run since, but his recent knocks of 75 and 73 against the West Indies and England were proof of his enduring quality – and more evidence that you write him off at your peril.
Virat Kohli (India)
Indian social media erupted in hailing the return of ‘King Kohli’ after the former captain hammered his first international century in 1,020 days during the recent Asia Cup.
Kohli hit an unbeaten 122 against Afghanistan to record his 71st century for India across all formats and shake off his extended dry run with the bat.
Suryakumar Yadav, skipper Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul will share the burden at the crease with Kohli in Australia.
But Indian pundits and fans are licking their lips at the prospect of star batsman Kohli (33) playing a leading role in their country’s bid to end a nine-year global title drought.
Babar Azam (Pakistan)
The classy Pakistan captain remains the talisman of his team’s batting lineup despite his inconsistent T20 form since the Asia Cup.
Fellow opener Mohammad Rizwan last month overtook him as the No 1 T20I batsman in the world, but Babar (27) could well hit top gear in the T20 showpiece event.
Last month Babar hit a match-winning 110* against England at home and has earned praise from some of the game’s greats.
“Babar is a complete player with his flowing drives and all-round shot range,” former Australia captain Ian Chappell wrote on ESPNcricinfo.
Jos Buttler (England)
Buttler has risen to the challenge of balancing his batting, captaincy and wicketkeeping duties after his appointment as England’s white-ball skipper in June.
The opener hit four sixes in his 32-ball 68 during England’s win over Australia in a warm-up match on Sunday, a welcome portent of England’s chances against the World Cup holders and hosts in the tournament proper.
Along with Australia and India, England are among the favourites to win the trophy for a second time after their 2010 triumph and in the 32-year-old Buttler they have a batsman of the highest quality.
He appears to be over the calf injury which kept him on the sidelines of the recent 4-3 series win in Pakistan.
Trent Boult (New Zealand)
The veteran left-arm quick bowler has kept up his form since last year’s T20 World Cup in the UAE where he played a key part in his team’s run to the final.
Able to swing the ball both ways at high speed, the 33-year-old Boult can destroy any top order with the new ball.
A year ago he took 13 wickets, more than any other fast bowler at the World Cup, and he is an experienced performer in Australian conditions.
Boult leads a potent New Zealand opening attack alongside Tim Southee as the Black Caps attempt to win a maiden global title in Australia, having also been runners-up in the last two editions of the 50-over World Cup.
© Agence France-Presse & SACricketmag.com