The recently concluded T20 World Cup 2022 won by England had more than a generous share of impact players. I rank the 5 best players — who played brilliantly when it mattered — based on the impact they had:
1: Jos Buttler
The England skipper is my number one impact player of the world cup. England had just three points from their first three games. A loss to NZ would have meant the end of their campaign.
Batting first versus the Kiwis, Buttler scored 73 from just 47 balls in an 81-run opening stand with Alex Hales. That knock helped England to 179/6 and a 20-run win. England had taken a giant step towards a semi-final spot.
In the semi-final against India, Buttler took things to an even higher level. Chasing a competitive target of 169, England won it by 10 wickets, with four overs to spare. Buttler contributed 80 from 49 balls with 9 fours and three sixes, making the Indian bowling look completely pedestrian.
And I have not even mentioned Buttler’s brilliant captaincy as he led his side to the championship.
2: Sam Curran
England’s pacer Sam Curran had a brilliant start to his WC campaign when he grabbed 5/10 versus Afghanistan. He went on to return figures of 2/31 versus Ireland, 2/26 versus New Zealand and 1/27 against Sri Lanka. With returns of 0/42, against India in the semi-final. Curran had his worst day of the competition.
In the final, England won the toss and invited Pakistan to bat. Curran, introduced in the 5th over, got the breakthrough, dismissing M Rizwan. England had reached 119/4 in 16 overs when Sam began his second spell. The move paid immediate dividends when Masood (top scorer with 38) was dismissed, caught at midwicket on the third ball.
The young paceman took one more wicket in his last over to finish with 3/12, helping to restrict Pakistan to a modest score of 137 for eight. As things transpired, England chased down with five wickets and an over to spare.
3: Virat Kohli
Arguably the most memorable knock of all was Kohli’s 82 from 53 balls in India’s opener versus Pakistan. Chasing 159 to win, India needed 48 from the last three overs. The Indian ace helped himself to three fours to help wipe off 17 runs in over 18 from Afridi. Over 19 was to be bowled by Haris Rauf, Pakistan’s best paceman on the day. Rauf conceded just three runs from the first four balls.
India were staring down the barrel, needing 28 from 8 balls. Kohli dispatched the last two balls for huge sixes – the first over the bowler’s head and the second over fine leg. The rest is history: India registered a sensational come-from-behind win thanks to King Kohli. The win eased India’s passage to the knockout stage. Kohli continued his good form throughout the competition, totting up 288 runs in four games with a strike rate of 152.38
4: Shadab Khan
After losses to India and Zimbabwe, Pakistan were given a lease of life, thanks to South Africa’s shock loss to Netherlands. Meanwhile, Pakistan stayed on track, winning their three remaining games versus Netherlands, South Africa, and Bangladesh. With figures of 3/22, 2/16, and 2/30, Pakistan’s leg break bowler Shadab Khan had a hand in all three wins. Earlier, he had grabbed 3/23 versus Zimbabwe after returning figures of 1/22 against India.
Shadab had the biggest impact in the match against South Africa. First, he scored an unbeaten 52 off 22 balls to help Pakistan to an imposing total of 185/9. He followed that up with bowling returns of 2/16. After going wicketless in the semi-final against New Zealand, he made 20 off 14 balls to give his side a semblance of respectability in the final against England. Though Pakistan lost the game, Shadab bowled a tight spell to return figures of 1/20.
5: Mitchell Santner
Mitchell Santner, New Zealand’s left-arm spinner, began his world cup campaign against Australia on 22 October. Batting first, the NZ batters piled up an impressive 200/3. On a two-paced wicket, Santner made an immediate impression. With the scorecard on 30/1, he got rid of the in-form Aussie skipper Aaron Finch. Bowling his full quota in a single spell, Santner snared the wickets of Marcus Stoinis and Tim David to leave the defending champions tottering at 75/5. They never recovered and were bowled out for 111.
Mitchell took 2/21 in his team’s next win, against Sri Lanka. Though New Zealand lost their match against England, Santner was as frugal as ever, taking 1/25. His returns of 2/26 versus Ireland helped ease his side into the semi-finals. In the semi-final, Pakistan chased down the modest target of 153 with 7 wickets to spare. Santner was the Kiwis’ best bowler, conceding only 26 runs while taking a wicket.