ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2022: Five Players who made strong impact in Round 1 of World Cup.
Cricket is a team sport. But more often than not, we see individual brilliance winning the match for the team. Individual performances not only win matches for teams but they also stick with fans and cricketing pundits. If such dominant performances come in a World Cup, then it goes beyond the cricketing world and is etched in the memories of the entire world.
One was witness to several glimpses of players coming, owning the stage, even before ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022 Super 12 stage started. Round 1 of the mega event dished out five such standout players to watch out for in the Super 12 stage, where they would go head on against the best of the best teams and players.
Wanindu Hasaranga (Sri Lanka)
Number 3 T20I & number 5 T20I all-rounder and spin wizard Wanindu Hasaranga was at his surreal best in Round 1. A clear outlier was that the associated nations failed to read the bowler from the hand, which made life even more difficult for the batters. The T20I specialist used his bag of spin bowling tricks one after the other to become the highest wicket taker in Round 1 with seven wickets.
After an average performance in the first game against Namibia, Hasaranga was his usual self against the UAE and Netherlands, where he picked up three wickets each. Hasaranga’s mystery outfoxed UAE batters when Sri Lanka just had 160+ runs on the board as he derailed the opponent’s ship with three wickets, giving just eight runs in his spell of four overs. Out of the total 23 wickets picked up by Sri Lanka, Hasaranga took 30.43 pc (7 of them), which helped Sri Lanka build a bridge to the Super 12 stage.
Sikandar Raza (Zimbabwe)
In recent years, Sikandar Raza has been dubbed the "Raja" (King) of Zimbabwe cricket. Raza came into this world cup on the back of a prolific series against Bangladesh where he scored 127 runs in three matches.
Riding this purple patch, Raza has so far scored 136 runs in the three Round 1 matches. What distinguished Raza from the rest was the manner in which he scored his runs, frequently coming in at number five or six, with the top order already back in the shed with only 50 or 60 runs on the board. Of the total runs scored by Zimbabwe in the matches they won in Round 1 against Ireland and Scotland, Raza scored 47.13 per cent and 30.08 pc of the runs in the respective games, which helped his side prevail in the end. Notably, Raza was also the highest run-scorer in Round 1 across teams.
In 2022, Raza’s stature has grown as an all-rounder who has been experimental with the ball too. He has an action and run up very similar to Sunil Narine and has picked up a total of five wickets in the tournament so far, with his best figures of 3-19 coming against twice T20 World Cup champions West Indies in an all-important Round 1 game.
Raza was the engine and the fuel for Zimbabwe’s flight to the World Cup Super 12 stage. The impactful and match-winning performances of Raza with both bat and ball have earned him two player of the match awards in three matches. Now, the onus will be on him to top it up one step further and carry this performance into the Super 12.
Bas de Leede (Netherlands)
Bas de Leede has been a true all-rounder in all senses of the word and has been the star for the Netherlands throughout 2022. De Leede, who had a phenomenal 2022, has so far played 10 innings and averaged 57.83 while remaining not out in three games. His 30- ball 30 against Namibia was critical to the Netherlands' chances of reaching the Super 12 stage.
The star all-rounder set Round 1 on fire with ball in hand as he dismantled the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with a three-fer which helped the Netherlands win the game. He then went ahead in the tournament, picking up four more wickets – two against Namibia and two Sri Lanka, respectively.
The Netherlands all-rounder’s performance has given his side the freedom to experiment with their bowling combination and play an additional batter in the lineup, giving them a healthy mix of options in both the bowling and batting departments. Much like Sikander Raza, Bas de Leede has also bagged two player of the match awards in three games. Whether de Leede is able to continue such match-winning performances against the better teams would be the bigger question, and that makes Bas the all-rounder a player to watch out for in the Super 12 stage.
Maxwell O'Dowd (Netherlands)
Maxwell O'Dowd has been the star for the Netherlands with the bat. O’Dowd was also the second highest run-scorer in the qualifier stages, scoring 129 runs in the three qualifying matches. The opener has set the tone right for the rest of the batters to follow. He showcased his class and patience against Sri Lanka, where he smashed 71 runs, accounting for 48.63 pc of the total runs scored by the Netherlands.
It is always difficult for associated nations to come and perform on big occasions, and O’Dowd has shown the world how it is done. And in some fine fashion, his innings have helped the Netherlands win two out of their three matches to qualify for the Super 12 stage. If the Netherlands plans to aim for glory in the coming days, O'Dowd has to be at his very best in the Super 12 stage as well.
Blessing Muzarabani (Zimbabwe)
Blessing Muzarabani has been a blessing for Zimbabwe in this year's T20 World Cup. Muzarabani is yet to go wicketless in the tournament as his performances with the ball in Round 1 have helped Zimbabwe put their foot into the Super 12 stage. Talking about numbers, out of the total 21 wickets picked up by Zimbabwe in the qualifier rounds, Muzarabani took 28.57 pc (6) of them and was Zimbabwe’s highest wicket-taker too.
Muzarabani’s action and pace off the wicket is deceptive for many and the batters have found themselves wondering for options to score against the right-arm bowler. Now, Muzarabani would move from being a big fish in a small pond to being a small fish in a big pond, and it would be fascinating to see how he tackles the best batters in the world in the Super 12 stage.