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ICC World T20: Five to watch

Pakistan celebrate winning the 2009 ICC World T20 at Lord's
Pakistan celebrate winning the 2009 ICC World T20 at Lord's

The ICC World T20 got underway on Sunday 16 March, with hosts Bangladesh convincingly beating Afghanistan in Dhaka.

With an expanded competition taking in sixteen teams, we look at the key men who will hope to lead their team to victory in the final in Mirpur on Sunday 6 April.

Darren Sammy

West Indian all-rounder Sammy is in the T20 form of his life, having just helped his side to a 2-1 series victory over England.

Primarily a containing bowler, Sammy has proved himself more than useful with the bat, as his match-winning 30 from 9 balls in the second match, and near-winning 15 off 6 in the third.

Blessed with long levers, and an ability to clear the ropes with ease, former MCC Young Cricketer Sammy’s big-hitting and canny bowling make him a vital part of a West Indies side hoping to defend their crown.

Alex Hales

Hales, like Sammy, is also a former MCC Young Cricketer, and until recently was ranked as the number one T20 batsman in the world.

With 27 T20Is at an impressive average of 34.34 to his name, Hales will want to get England off to a flyer at the top of the order.

While England go into the tournament as outsiders, with Hales - who was described by MCC Head Coach Clive Radley as being a “natural timer of the ball” - at the top, there is still hope that Stuart Broad’s men can win their second World T20 trophy.

Ross Taylor

After two consecutive ODI hundreds against India, New Zealand’s Ross Taylor comes into the World T20 tournament in form, and on his day is one of the most aggressive batsmen in world cricket.

While it would be harsh to call the 30-year-old Taylor a veteran, he’s been a vital part of the Kiwi batting line up for many years now, and his ability to score well, and quickly, is a large reason why New Zealand are being tipped by many to go far in the tournament.

Taylor is also a former MCC Young Cricketer.

Saeed Ajmal

With pitches in Bangladesh proving helpful when pace is taken off the ball, the tournament is likely to be decided by the performances of the spinners.

Pakistan’s Saeed Ajmal is as good as they come, combining mystery, control, and a prodigious amount of lateral spin, which has seen him top the rankings as the best ODI bowler in the world.

Ajmal was part of Pakistan’s 2009 ICC World T20 victory at Lord’s, and will return to the Home of Cricket later this year for the MCC v Rest of the World Bicentenary match, but will first attempt to lead his country to another World T20 title.

Kumar Sangakkara & Mahela Jayawardene

The Sri Lankan legends have both announced that this World T20 will be their last, and what better way to leave international T20 cricket behind than by leading their country to victory?

Both technically excellent and superb on the eye, the pair will hope to go one better than their defeats in the final in 2009 and 2012, and nobody would begrudge the two of them victory in their swan song tournament.

But fans of the pair needn’t worry - while Sangakkara and Jayawardene are retiring from international Twenty20s, they’ll both be available for selection for the England v Sri Lanka Test match at Lord’s on Thursday 12 June.

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