Who are the five young players to watch at the ICC T20 World Cup?

Al Jazeera picks cricket’s brightest young ones who could leave their mark on the T20 World Cup 2024 in the US and the West Indies.

India's Yashasvi Jaiswal
Yashasvi Jaiswal has scored 502 runs in his 17 T20 international appearances for India [File: Adnan Abidi/Reuters]

The world’s biggest sporting events are known for shining the limelight on the superstars that rule the game, but they also serve as a platform to unearth the brightest young talent in sport.

There are a few cricketers who entered the ICC T20 World Cup as relative unknowns but left the experts and fans in awe of their skills and potential by the end of the tournament.

Think, Shakib al-Hasan and Mohammad Amir at the 2009 T20 World Cup, Virat Kohli at the 2012 edition and Wanindu Hasaranga in 2022.

Here’s Al Jazeera’s list of five young ones who could light up the 2024 edition of the tournament:

Yashasvi Jaiswal: India

Arguably India’s brightest young cricketer in the past year, Jaiswal has proven himself in the longest and shortest formats of the game. While the 23-year-old’s rags-to-riches story may have endeared him to fans, it is his batting and fearless approach towards the game that has put him in the limelight.

Within a year of making his T20 international debut, Jaiswal has scored more than 500 runs in 17 matches at an impressive average of 33.4 and a high strike rate of 161. He has even managed to score a T20I century to go with his four half-centuries.

The top-order batter is certain to open the innings for India with his experienced captain Rohit Sharma. And if India are to win a second T20 title that has eluded them in 17 years, a good portion of their runs may come off Jaiswal’s bat.

yashasvi jaiswal
Yashasvi Jaiswal has hit 28 sixes in his T20 career [File: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters]

Saim Ayub: Pakistan

In a country known for pushing young players at the deep end, Saim’s introduction to international cricket came relatively late. The left-handed batter played his first T20I at the age of 21 last year, but has been unable to plant his feet firmly in the playing XI. This has partly been down to his form, as well as due to Pakistan’s reluctance to break the opening batters’ bond between Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan.

Saim goes into the T20 World Cup with plenty of experience of playing in the West Indies, where he won the T20 Caribbean Premier League 2023 with his franchise Guyana Amazon Warriors. Saim’s 52 was the highest individual score in the final and he ended the season second on the batting charts.

While the opener has not been able to replicate his success for his country, Saim has the ability to hit unconventional big shots. He also offers  a possible left-right opening combination along with captain Babar. Most of all, his experience of playing in the region could make him a standout performer for the 2009 champions.

saim ayub
Saim Ayub has a strong leg-side game [File: Anjum Naveed/AP]

Will Jacks: England

Jacks made his international debut for England in 2022 as an off-spinner but goes into the T20 World Cup better known for his big-hitting abilities, thanks to his recent success with the bat in the Indian Premier League.

The 25-year-old all-rounder averaged 33 at an impressive strike rate of 175 in his eight matches with Royal Challengers Bengaluru. He then followed it up with 57 runs in two matches in England’s recent T20 series against Pakistan.

Coming in to bat at the crucial one-down spot, Jacks will provide England stability and power-hitting options as they look to win a record third T20 World Cup.

will jacks
Will Jacks will go into the T20 World Cup on the back of a good run in the IPL [File: Jason Cairnduff/Action Images via Reuters]

Matheesha Pathirana: Sri Lanka

Pathirana comes from the Lasith Malinga school of low, slingy fast-bowling action and he has the guru’s backing.

“Matheesha, without any fears you can bring him in the last stages of an innings,” Malinga said in an interview with ESPNCricinfo. “His biggest weapons are his pace and his yorker but the biggest thing I see with Matheesha is his big heart.”

The 21-year-old has 28 wickets in his 18 international outings for Sri Lanka but his recent performance at the IPL has helped raise his stocks as well. Aside from his 13 wickets in six games, it is his low economy rate, average and strike rate that made him a standout performer.

The young gun could be Sri Lanka’s main weapon with the ball.

Sri Lanka's Matheesha Pathirana
Matheesha Pathirana [File: KM Chaudary/AP]

Rishad Hossain: Bangladesh

Hossain is not so known in the international cricket arena but has quietly built a reputation as a miserly leg-spinning all-rounder who can get his side over the line with the bat too.

The tall leggie has taken 15 wickets in his 17 T20s, but at an economy rate of 7, which makes him a rare commodity in the big-hitting format of T20s.

The 21-year-old from Rangpur in northwestern Bangladesh could find plenty of assistance on the slow pitches in the Caribbean and may end up plotting Bangladesh’s path to the knockout stages of the tournament.

Bangladesh's Rishad Hossain
Rishad Hossain [File: Munir uz Zaman/AFP]
Source: Al Jazeera