Babar Azam, Shaheen Afridi feature in Watson’s top five World T20I players

ISLAMABAD, Aug 23 (APP): Australia great Shane Watson has revealed the five players he will select first if given the unenviable task of choosing a World T20I XI.

Watson is known as one of Australia’s best white-ball players of all time. The star all-rounder further strengthened his credentials by showcasing his talents in various domestic T20 leagues around the world for over a decade.

In recent times, Watson has turned to coaching to nurture the best limited-overs players in the world and the 41-year-old only this year joined the Delhi Capitals as their assistant coach in the Indian Premier League.

Watson uses that role to keep a close eye on the best T20 players around the world and is eagerly awaiting the ICC T20 World Cup in Australia later this year.

Speaking on the latest episode of The ICC Review, Watson was asked by host Sanjana Ganesan to select the first five players he would choose to play for a World T20I XI in Australia.

“First one I’d pick would be Babar Azam,” Watson said. “He’s the No.1 T20I batsman in the world, and he just knows how to dominate.

“It’s like he’s not even taking any risks, and he scores incredibly quickly against the best bowlers in the world.

“He’s going to do very well in Australian conditions (during the T20 World Cup) as well, as his technique is very much built for Australian conditions.”

“Second one is Suryakumar Yadav,” Watson noted. “He’s batting incredibly well, and he would be my No.2 pick.

“But I wouldn’t be surprised at all if (India team-mate) KL Rahul explodes in the T20 World Cup in Australia, because he’s got the game to dominate in these conditions in Australia.”

“No.3 is David Warner,” Watson said. “He won the Player of the Tournament in the last men’s T20 World Cup, with the Aussies winning, and has scored some great runs for the Delhi Capitals (in the IPL) as well.

“He’s going to have plenty of fire in his belly to make his mark in a T20 World Cup at home, so he’s going to be ready to go.”

“No.4 for me is going to be Jos Buttler,” Watson said. “During the IPL, well a lot of times anyway, no one could get him out.

“Four hundreds has only been done once before in an IPL, with Virat Kohli doing that (in 2016).

“When he’s in form, and he has been in form, he’s just about impossible in T20 cricket to get out. He can hit wherever he wants off the best bowlers in the world.

“And he knows Australian conditions really well, he’s played the Big Bash and did very well a few years ago, when I played with him at the Sydney Thunder. So Jos Buttler is going to dominate.”

“And the last one is Shaheen Afridi,” Watson said. “His wicket-taking ability is something special.

“We saw in the last men’s T20 World Cup his ability to be able to get the best batsmen out with that brand new ball. I’d be very surprised if he doesn’t really dominate in Australian conditions, with the ball swinging around and fast, bouncy wickets.

“My only little concern with him is, if he doesn’t take wickets to start with, then he can tail off a little bit. But I’m sure he’s been working on that. I’d be surprised if he doesn’t dominate here.”

APP Services