'I have a different opinion': Kaneria rates England star above Kohli, Rohit, Rahul in his T20I XI
Despite India's unforeseen exit from the recent T20 World Cup, four Indians were a part of the T20I side stacked by former Pakistan skipper Danish Kaneria. There were a few surprises too. Many household Indian players including Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli went missing from the list while in-form players to prove their mettle in the shortest format like Mitchell Marsh squeezed in.
To start, Kaneria picked two Pakistan openers, Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan for their "outstanding" record in the showpiece T20 event. The pair added 380 runs in 25 stands at an average of 57.50 - the first pair with 1000 partnership runs in a calendar year in T20 cricket. At present, Rizwan and Babar now hold the record for the most century partnerships by any pair in T20Is (6).
"Mohammad Rizwan and Babar Azam are my openers as performed really well throughout 2021. They were outstanding in the T20 World Cup (2021) and they played well in the recently concluded series against West Indies as well," Kaneria said while speaking on his YouTube channel.
Kaneria then picked England's Jos Buttler over Rohit at the No. 3 position, followed by Liam Livingstone and Marsh. With his ton in the T20 World Cup against Sri Lanka, Buttler became the first England men's team batter to hit a hundred in all three formats of international cricket. Marsh also had an impressive stint in the mega-event, scoring 185 runs in six matches at an average of over 61.
"People will say at one down it should be Rohit Sharma or KL Rahul or Virat Kohli but no I have a different opinion, I will go with Jos Buttler. He (Buttler) played really well and he had also scored a hundred in World Cup. So, he deserves the spot," he said.
For the next two spots in his team, Kaneria went with the Indian duo of Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin. The three-man pace attack of Kaneria also featured an Indian, Jasprit Bumrah. The other two pacers of the T20 side were Shaheen Afridi and Trent Boult. Another Indian name, Rishabh Pant, was a part of Kaneria's T20I squad as the 12th man.
Afridi's spell against India in the T20 World Cup was named as ‘Play of the tournament’ by the ICC. The left-arm seamer bowled a fierce bowling spell, sending back India openers Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul in his first two overs and removing Virat Kohli too. His 3-31 off four overs helped Pakistan finally break their jinx against India and record a historic first-ever win in a World Cup face-off.
Danish Kaneria's T20 XI of 2021: Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan, Jos Buttler, Liam Livingstone, Mitchell Marsh, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravi Ashwin, Shaheen Afridi, Trent Boult, Jasprit Bumrah, Adam Zampa; Rishabh Pant (12th Man).