Dubai: Top Australian all-rounder Glenn Maxwell has picked Afghanistan spinner Rashid Khan, West Indies' destructive batsman Andre Russell, England all-rounder Ben Stokes, legendary Aussie wicketkeeper-batsman Adam Gilchrist and express pace bowler Shaun Tait as the top-five players in the shortest format of the game ever, ahead of the ICC T20 World Cup scheduled to commence later this month in UAE and Oman.
Asked to pick five players who he would have in his T20 World XI, Maxwell went for choices that would cover all aspects on the cricket field and could give a tough time to any five-a-side T20 team in the world.
Considered by many to be the premier spinner in T20 cricket, Rashid Khan was Maxwell's No.1 pick. The 23-year-old, Rashid has already achieved a number of feats in his career, across all formats of the game, with batters still finding it difficult to pick his variations.
Rashid is somewhat of a veteran in T20 cricket, playing for a number of franchises around the world. He has played 281 matches, picking up a 388 wickets at an average of 17.54 and a strike-rate of 16.60. He has also been a handy batter, scoring 1288 runs. At the international level, Rashid has scalped 95 wickets in 51 matches at an average of 12.63 with a strike-rate of 12.10, with best bowling figures of 5/3.
Maxwell felt he will pose a major threat to the batters during the ICC T20 World Cup, especially with the conditions expected to be conducive to spin bowling.
On West Indian cricketer Andre Russell, Maxwell said that he is "someone who'll add anything to any T20 side." Russell has been an integral part of the West Indies T20 set-up. In his T20 career, Russell has played 382 games, scoring 6,405 runs at a strike-rate of 169.66. He has also scalped up 340 wickets with best figures of 5/15.
In the international arena, Russell has played 62 games, scoring 716 runs and scalping 36 wickets. West Indies would hope that he is fit during the T20 World Cup, as they aim for a third title.
Maxwell was also full of praise for the Ben Stokes, who he said was a "fierce competitor". Having played 148 T20 matches, Stokes has scored 2,865 runs at an average of 24.91 and a strike-rate of 135.07. The all-rounder has also picked 86 wickets at 31.03 apiece.
For England, Stokes has played 34 T20Is, scoring 442 runs and scalping 28 wickets. Maxwell felt, England will feel his absence during the T20 World Cup.
Maxwell, who plays for Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL, also included Adam Gilchrist in his top-5 picks, saying he is a "game-changer in each and every sense of imagination".
"Unerring with the gloves and smashing with the bat, watching Gilchrist in full flow was a ride will of thrill," said Maxwell to icc-cricket.com. Though international T20 cricket was in its infancy towards the end of Gilchrist's career, he still made an impact, scoring 272 runs in 13 matches at a strike rate of 141.66. In his overall T20 career, Gilchrist played 102 games, scoring 2622 runs at a strike-rate of 140.28 with three centuries.
On the inclusion of Shaun Tait in his top-5 picks, Maxwell said, "Having played against him, I know how quick he was. Even at the back end of his career, he was bowling absolute rockets. I think he'd certainly strike fear into any batter at the other end."
Despite being beset by injuries, Tait regularly clocked up speeds of over 150 km/h. He played 171 T20 matches in his career picking up 218 wickets at an average of 22.41 apiece.