KL Rahul and Anrich Nortje. Pics: IPLT20.COM KL Rahul will look to continue his form for Team India.
The T20 World Cup 2021 is all set to get underway in the UAE and Oman from October 17 to November 14. The ICC event will get underway immediately after the conclusion of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021, which is also being held in the Middle East.
The IPL 2021 final will be played on October 15 in Dubai, while the T20 World Cup 2021 will begin with a clash between co-hosts Oman and newcomers Papua New Guinea in Oman on October 17.
Not surprisingly then, most top sides viewed the IPL as the best preparation for the T20 World Cup. Over the last few weeks, top players from most franchises tried to get themselves acclimatised to the conditions they will face during the T20 World Cup.
Could these IPL 2021 stars repeat their performances in the T20 World Cup?
Many players who shone in IPL 2021 will also be key figures for their national teams during the T20 World Cup. Here’s a look at five such players:
#1 KL Rahul (India)
KL Rahul could be a key player for Team India.
There have been reports that Ishan Kishan could open the batting for India during the T20 World Cup. But the think-tank may make a huge mistake if KL Rahul doesn’t bat at the top of the order during the ICC event.
Rahul is at the peak of his powers across all formats, so it is imperative for the team to utilise his services to the maximum. The 29-year-old, who resurrected his Test career in England, was in sublime form in the IPL yet again. After winning the Orange Cap last year, he is in the lead this year as well, having amassed 626 runs in 13 games at a strike rate of 138.8.
The elegant batter has the ability to score at a brisk pace without resorting to slogging the ball, which is a rare quality in the modern-day game. Rahul’s confidence. too, will be at an all-time high following the success he has had with the willow in recent times.
#2 Glenn Maxwell (Australia)
RCB batter Glenn Maxwell. Pic: IPLT20.COM
Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) may have failed to make the IPL 2021 final. But the fact they reached the Eliminator had a lot to do with Glenn Maxwell’s stupendous debut campaign with the franchise.
The Big Show ended the season with 513 runs in 15 games for the Bangalore franchise, scoring his runs at a strike rate of 144.1. Maxwell crossed the half-century mark six times during IPL 2021. In contrast, he did not register a single fifty in the previous three editions of the competition he featured in.
RCB gave Maxwell the assurance of the No.4 spot. and the maverick responded by taking responsibility. He took his time to settle in before unleashing his reverse-sweeps and switch-hits. IPL 2021 has provided a way to Australia on how Maxwell could be best utilised during the T20 World Cup.
#3 Anrich Nortje (South Africa)
Delhi Capitals pacer Anrich Nortje. Pic: IPLT20.COM
South African speedster Anrich Nortje could be his team’s X-factor at the T20 World Cup. He has proved in the IPL that extreme pace can make a big difference irrespective of the surface. Unable to find a place in the Delhi Capitals (DC)’s playing XI in the first leg, Nortje came in and made an immediate impact in the second.
In seven matches thus far, he has claimed ten wickets at a strike rate of 15.8 and a stupendous economy rate of 5.92. He has picked up wickets in most matches, and has hardly given anything away. While his fellow South African Kagiso Rabada has blown hot and cold, Nortje has constantly kept opponents under the pump.
Among the current pace bowlers, Nortje has one of the most accurate yorkers in the game. Add to that his extra pace, and he becomes doubly dangerous. The 27-year-old could be a lethal weapon for the Proteas at the T20 World Cup if he can maintain his good form.
#4 Shimron Hetmyer (West Indies)
Delhi Capitals batter Shimron Hetmyer. Pic: IPLT20.COM
Defending champions West Indies’ T20 World Cup squad has an abundance of big-hitting talent: captain Kieron Pollard, vice-captain Nicholas Pooran, veteran Chris Gayle and Lendl Simmons, to name a few. However, the maturity with which Shimron Hetmyer has batted for DC in IPL 2021, there will be high hopes from him at the T20 World Cup too.
On many occasions, Hetmyer has come in with his team needing quick runs from him. And he has delivered more often than not, although the end result may not always have been in his franchise’s favour. The hard-hitting left-hander has smashed 225 runs in 13 games for DC at a fabulous strike rate of 167.91.
Apart from his blazing strokes, it is the confidence with which Hetmyer has backed his ability that has stood out. The T20 World Cup is a great platform for the young West Indian talent to demonstrate his growth as a match-winner.
#5 Rashid Khan (Afghanistan)
Rashid Khan celebrates a wicket with his SRH teammates. Pic: IPLT20.COM
Since his IPL debut in 2017, there has not been a single season in which leg-spinner Rashid Khan has claimed less than 17 wickets. IPL 2021 was no different, too. Even as Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) experienced their worst season, finishing last, Khan made his mark with 18 wickets at a strike rate of 18.66 and an economy rate of 6.69.
When Khan played the previous T20 World Cup in 2016, he was relatively new to international cricket. Nevertheless, he made a big impact, claiming 11 wickets in seven games at an average of 16.63. Five years on, he will return to the tournament as one of the biggest T20 stars.
His success in the IPL and other T20 leagues like the Big Bash will make him one of the major attractions at the T20 World Cup. Afghanistan have qualified directly for the Super 12, which is an achievement in itself. But to create a major upset at the T20 World Cup, they will need a big effort from Khan.