Ahead of the T20 World Cup 2022, Sri Lankan legend Mahela Jayawardene has picked five players from the current era for his dream T20 side. Jayawardene went with a maximum of two cricketers from Pakistan and one each from India, England, and Afghanistan.
Starting with his first pick, the current Mumbai Indians (MI) coach chose Afghanistan leg-spinner Rashid Khan, who is currently playing for Gujarat Titans (GT) in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2022. Jayawardene opined that Rashid has the ability to pick wickets in different situations and also score priceless runs with the bat.
“For me, the bowlers are the most important aspect of T20 cricket, and Rashid Khan is a proper spinner that can bat. He is a very good number seven or number eight batter, and you can use him in different circumstances depending on your combinations. He can also bowl in different phases of an innings like during the Powerplay, the middle overs and also at the death he is not a bad option depending on the conditions, so Rashid would be my first pick,” said Jayawardene while speaking on the ICC review show.
The 44-year-old then picked Pakistan pace sensation Shaheen Afridi, who performed outstandingly well in the previous edition of the multi-team event. Jayawardene reckoned that Shaheen is a wicket-taker who bowls really well in the death overs.
“I am then going to go with two more bowlers, actually, and the first one is going to be a left-armer in Shaheen Afridi. He had a great World Cup last year, bowls very well with the new ball and is more than capable of getting some swing early too. He is a wicket-taking option too that bowls very well at the death as well, so can be considered a good attacking option,” added Jayawardene.
When it comes to the third pick, Jayawardene went with none other than India’s frontline pacer Jasprit Bumrah. The Colombo-born cricketer-turned-coach said that he admires Bumrah a lot as the right-armer is a wicket-taker and possesses the ability to close an innings off.
“Jasprit Bumrah is a guy I have always admired as he is capable of bowling in different phases of an innings. He is another wicket-taking option, and when you need guys to close an innings off, there is no one better than Jasprit Bumrah,” observed Jayawardene.
The former Sri Lanka skipper picked England’s Jos Buttler and Pakistan’s Mohammad Rizwan as his remaining two options. Jayawardene said that Buttler would be his opener because of the latter’s explosive batting at the top. Notably, the English star is currently the orange cap holder in IPL 2022, with 588 runs to his name in 10 matches for Rajasthan Royals (RR).
“I would probably open the batting with Jos. He is very aggressive and plays both pace and spin well. He has been in great form at the IPL of late and did well at the last T20 World Cup as well, where he played really well in tough conditions in the UAE,” the former Sussex batter asserted.
Jayawardene named Rizwan as the wicket-keeper of his side and argued that despite Rizwan being an opener for Pakistan, he would bat him in the middle-order due to the Peshawar-born batter’s skill of playing spin.
“The next option is the wicketkeeper-batter, and I am going with Mohammad Rizwan. I know he does often open the batting for Pakistan, but I think he can bat in that middle order. He is a good player of spin and a very busy player,” Jayawardene added further.