Kohli, Babar, Archer: 10 players to watch at the ICC T20 World Cup 2024

Al Jazeera’s rundown of the biggest players set to take centre stage at the T20 World Cup in the US and West Indies.

Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli will look to carry his recent form into the ICC T20 World Cup and give India a chance to lift another trophy [File: Adnan Abidi/Reuters]

The world’s biggest athletes often choose the most grand occasions to make their mark on the game.

When the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024 gets under way on Saturday, cricket fans will be eager to see their favourite stars shine and take their countries to glory at the end of the nearly monthlong tournament on June 29.

The biggest ever edition of the T20 World Cup with 20 nations competing is set to bring the biggest names to the fore, but only a handful make our list of the players to watch out for. Here they are:

Virat Kohli: India

Not much needs to be said about Kohli, arguably the biggest name in world cricket, but his recent form speaks volumes. The India talisman finished on top of the run-scoring charts at the recently concluded Indian Premier League (IPL).

Kohli was the player of the tournament at the 50-over Cricket World Cup 2023. At 35 years of age, the T20 World Cup could mark his last attempt to add another trophy to a glittering career, and the man often known as “King Kohli” is not one to miss too many chances.

Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli holds the record for most runs scored at a T20 World Cup [File: Adnan Abidi/Reuters]

Babar Azam: Pakistan

Pakistan’s back-again captain is regarded as one of the best batters in world cricket across all formats. His role at the top of the order for his side is so crucial that if Pakistan are to make a run for the final, then it will largely depend on Babar’s run at the tournament.

The 29-year-old has already made 287 international appearances in all formats for his country and goes into the World Cup in rich form.

Babar Azam
Pakistan’s Babar Azam was named the ICC’s cricketer of the year in 2023 [File: Adnan Abidi/Reuters]

Jofra Archer: England

The right-arm seamer bowled the Super Over for England in their Cricket World Cup 2019 final victory against New Zealand but has been plagued by injuries ever since.

Born in Barbados to an English father and Bajan mother, the 29-year-old’s raw pace and awareness of the conditions in the West Indies will be crucial in England’s quest for a record third T20 world title.

Jofra Archer
Jofra Archer made his return to the England side during the recent T20 series against Pakistan [Ed Sykes /Action Images via Reuters]

Rashid Khan: Afghanistan

Rashid Khan is a man who wears multiple hats for Afghanistan and does it with a smile. For Afghanistan to have a great World Cup, Rashid, who is arguably their biggest star and most important player, must shine as a bowler, lower-order batter and captain.

The wily leg spinner is capable of halting the charge of some of the biggest batsmen in the world and setting opposition bowling on fire with his big hitting.

Afghanistan's Rashid Khan
Rashid Khan will lead Afghanistan at the ICC T20 World Cup 2024 [File: Manish Swarup/AP]

Andre Russell: West Indies

Andre Russel is a veteran of two T20 World Cup wins in 2012 and 2016 and an important cog in Kolkata Knight Rider’s title-winning run at the recently concluded IPL. The 36-year-old’s form with bat and ball, right up to the final, was crucial in Kolkata’s third IPL title.

West Indies fans will hope the powerful all-rounder will replicate for his country and bring them a third title as well.

Kolkata Knight Riders' Andre Russell
Andre Russell took three wickets for Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL final [Mahesh Kumar A/AP]

Adam Zampa: Australia

Adam Zampa, a 32-year-old wrist spinner, had a mixed Cricket World Cup 2023 campaign, during which he was predicted to shine for Australia. He did come up with the goods at a crucial time, however, and played his part in dragging the Aussies from a slow start to lifting the trophy. An economy rate of 7.5 in T20Is  is a fraction high, but his average of 22 cannot to be dismissed. In the absence of another specialist leg spinner, Zampa will carry the burden of the spin department.

Australia's Adam Zampa
Adam Zampa will carry the burden of spin bowling for Australia [File: Aijaz Rahi/AP]

Finn Allen: New Zealand

The New Zealand opener tore into Pakistan in their T20 series this year with an astonishing display of six-hitting. Should Allen reach his full potential, his raw power will be near unstoppable against any team.

The 25-year-old has a strike rate of just below 170 in T20 internationals, and with his 137 in the series against Pakistan, he replaced Brendan McCullum at the top of the highest individual scorers for the Kiwis in T20s.

New Zealand's Finn Allen
Finn Allen plays a shot against Pakistan in Karachi [File: Fareed Khan/AP]

Wanindu Hasaranga: Sri Lanka

After an injury-hit 2023, Wanindu Hasarnga has returned to lead Sri Lanka from the front in their recent limited-over outings.

The 26-year-old all-rounder’s powerful middle-order presence – at a strike rate of 130 – cannot be overlooked. Then comes his leg spin. In 63 T20 international innings, he has claimed 104 wickets at an average of 15.

Sri Lanka's Wanindu Hasaranga
Wanindu Hasaranga, right, will lead Sri Lanka at the T20 World Cup [File: Eranga Jayawardena/AP]

Gerald Coetzee: South Africa

The fast bowler is quickly establishing himself as a key part of the South African side. Alongside fellow youngster Marco Jansen, the 23-year-old is part of a bright future for the Proteas attack.

South Africa's Gerald Coetzee appeals for an lbw of Australia's Pat Cummins
Gerald Coetzee [File: Andrew Boyers/Reuters]

Shakib Al Hasan: Bangladesh

Ranked second behind only Hasaranga on the ICC’s list of all-rounders, Shakib Al Hasan is pulling up trees even at the age of 37.

A veteran of 122 T20 internationals and often ranked the top all-rounder across all formats, the left-hander has 12 fifties at a strike rate of 122 while averaging 20 with his slow left-armers for his 146 wickets.

Shakib is one of the handful of players who have played in all eight editions of the T20 World Cup.

Bangladesh's captain Shakib Al Hasan
Shakib Al Hasan is an experienced T20 World Cup cricketeer, having played in all eight [File: Eranga Jayawardena/AP]

Notable mentions

Jasprit Bumrah: India

Shaheen Shah Afridi: Pakistan

Jos Buttler: England

Source: Al Jazeera