We’re now engrossed in the third World T20 tournament and three IPL seasons have been completed so it's worth looking for trends and trendsetters in the shortest version of the game.
Firstly, let's look at what makes an ideal T20 team. Two vital ingredients are: a successful opener and a
prodigious hitter in the late overs. Part of Sachin Tendulkar's amazing late career revival has featured an extremely successful last IPL season. Much of his success can be attributed to keeping the dot balls to a minimum (37%) and scoring more than half his runs in boundaries. This means he maintains a high run rate by basically keeping the ball along the ground, thus reducing his chances of being caught. Consequently he accumulated a number of solid scores, making him the ideal type to anchor an innings. Not surprisingly the highly successful Mahela Jayawardene employs a similar formula.
This contrasts with a top order batsman like Suresh Raina who also had a successful IPL season but took more risks. Raina scored about 25% of his runs via sixes, which means when his timing is a little astray or his luck is out he's more likely to struggle than a Tendulkar or Jaywardene.
Albie Morkel capably fulfils the requirements for a late order hitter. His innings at Kensington Oval against the Kiwis involved smashing the balls straight, which reduces the risk. Morkel scored 40% of his runs from sixes in the IPL so his formula is surprisingly consistent.
Successful bowlers are hard to find because even the best suffer some form of punishment. However, in conditions like those prevailing at Kensington Oval, a pair of wicket-taking speedsters like Dale Steyn and Dirk Nannes is ideal.
Not only are they right and left-arm bowlers, they take wickets regularly, produce a lot of dot balls and are difficult to hit for six.
The ability to take wickets with the new ball is crucial and is one reason why Australia and South Africa are favourites for the WT20 title.
Spinners have quickly built a reputation for being vital components in a successful T20 side. The ideal type is a wicket-taker who conjures up a high percentage of dot balls (around 50%).
Not surprisingly, Muttiah Muralitharan and Daniel Vettori rank high and Harbhajan Singh also rates well for the flexibility he provides.
The rest of the team card can be filled with the likes of dashing opener David Warner, a floating middle-order batsman who can hit the ball, bowl tidily and field well; a la Kieron Pollard and a thinking wicket-keeper like M.S. Dhoni who is also a good batsman.