Former Sri Lanka captain and the current Mumbai Indians coach Mahela Jayawardena revealed his first five picks from the current era if he was given the responsibility of building a dream T20 XI. Jayawardena named two cricketers from Pakistan, one each from India, England, and Afghanistan as his first five picks. Jasprit Bumrah was the only Indian in Jayawardene’s top five picks for a dream T20 side. The Indian pacer was Jayawardena’s third choice.
“Jasprit Bumrah is a guy I have always admired as he is capable of bowling in different phases of an innings,” Jayawardena told ICC. “He is another wicket-taking option and, when you need guys to close an innings off, there is no one better than Jasprit Bumrah,” he added.
Bumrah has 67 wickets to his name in 57 T20Is at an economy rate of 6.5.
The MI head coach’s first choice was Afghanistan leg-spinner Rashid Khan, who currently plays for the Gujarat Titans in the IPL. The Sri Lankan great said Rashid is someone who can pick wickets in different situations and also score invaluable runs with the bat.
“For me the bowlers are the most important aspect of T20 cricket and Rashid Khan is a proper spinner that can bat. He is a very good number seven or number eight batter and you can use him in different circumstances depending on your combinations. He can also bowl in different phases of an innings like during the Powerplay, the middle overs and also at the death he is not a bad option depending on the conditions, so Rashid would be my first pick,” Jayawardena added.
Jayawardena’s third pick was Pakistan left-arm seamer Shaheen Shah Afridi, who was emerged as one of the top bowlers in white-ball cricket in the last year or so.
“I am then going to go with two more bowlers actually and the first one is going to be a left-armer in Shaheen Afridi,” Jayawardena said. “He had a great World Cup last year, bowls very well with the new ball and is more than capable of getting some swing early too. He is a wicket taking option too that bowls very well at the death as well, so can be considered a good attacking option.”
Jayawardena picked the current Orange Cap holder of IPL 2022 Jos Buttler has his opener.
“I would probably open the batting with Jos,” Jayawardena said. “He is very aggressive and plays both pace and spin well. He has been in great form at the IPL of late and did well at the last T20 World Cup as well where he played really well in tough conditions in the UAE,” he added.
Pakistan’s Mohammad Rizwan was named as the wicketkeeper of Jaywardena’s side.
“The next option is the wicketkeeper-batter and I am going with Mohammad Rizwan,” Jayawardena said. I know he does often open the batting for Pakistan, but I think he can bat in that middle order. He is a good player of spin and a very busy player.”
Jayawardena picked Chris Gayle as Buttler’s opening partner once he was given an opportunity to include one player from the past.