Legendary England batsman Kevin Pietersen has named three Pakistani players in his team of the tournament for the recently concluded T20 World Cup. The tournament was won by Australia, who claimed their maiden world title in this format of the game as they beat trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand by eight wickets in Dubai on Sunday.
Pietersen has named Mohammed Rizwan, Babar Azam and Shaheen Afridi in his tournament XI at Betway. The trio played a key role in Pakistan reaching the semifinals- especially in their thumping of arch rivals India in the tournament opener, where Afridi wrecked their top-order and Rizwan and Babar chased down 152 without losing a wicket.
That victory over India was also Pakistan’s first over their neighbours in World Cup cricket and set the tone for them as they won all five of their games in Group 2 and qualified for the semi-finals. They were however beaten in the last four by eventual champions Australia, with Matthew Wade effectively repeating what Michael Hussey had done to them back in 2010.
While there are three representatives from Pakistan in KP’s team of the tournament, there is only one Aussie in his XI, and that is in the form of spinner Adam Zampa. Despite winning the player of the tournament award, David Warner doesn’t find a spot in Pietersen’s team, with wicket keepers Rizwan and Jos Buttler chosen to open and Babar Azam pencilled in at No.3.
Apart from Warner, the only other difference between Pietersen’s XI and the official ICC team of the tournament comes in the bowling department- the former has gone for Shaheen Afridi, while the latter has Josh Hazlewood. CSK star Hazlewood carried over his IPL form to the tournament and played key roles in Australia’s first and last games of the WC-against South Africa and New Zealand respectively. KP however chose Afridi to partner Trent Boult and Anrich Nortje. Both sides have Wanindu Hasaranga as the spinning all-rounder, with Moeen Ali and Aiden Markram also available as part time options.
KP Team of the tournament by country
Pakistan (3)- Mohammad Rizwan, Babar, Shaheen Afridi
England (2)- Jos Buttler, Moeen Ali
Sri Lanka (2)- Charith Asalanka, Wanindu Hasaranga
South Africa (2)- Aiden Markram, Anrich Nortje
New Zealand (1)- Trent Boult
Australia (1)- Adam Zampa
Markram and Asalanka were absolute revelations for their respective teams. Markram’s power hitting game in the middle order helped South Africa beat both defending champions West Indies as well as favourites England, while southpaw Asalanka showed that Sri Lanka, given their relative youth, could be a real force Down Under in next year’s tournament.