Five players to watch at cricket's Twenty20 World Cup

The Twenty20 World Cup is set to begin Saturday with tournament co-host the United States taking on Canada in Dallas. The global T20 championship has moved to a 20-team format, giving a chance to the associate or lower-ranked nations at the highest stage, while retaining the usual favorites in the title chase.

Most of cricket’s biggest stars are among the 250-plus players at the tournament being co-hosted by the United States and the Caribbean.

Here’s five players, existing or emerging stars, to watch:


Phil Salt

Age: 27

Team: England

T20 World Cup Experience: 2022 (champions)

About: Salt caught attention in his debut T20 series in January 2022. He scored at a strike-rate of 193.54 against the West Indies, and then repeated his performance when England returned to the Caribbean in December of last year. He scored at 185.95 across five T20s, also including back-to-back hundreds. He replaces Alex Hales at the top of England’s T20 order – a tough assignment, particularly because Hales and skipper Jos Buttler helped England smash its way to the title in 2022.

That victory in Australia meant England held the two major limited-overs trophies in world cricket for more than a year. That ended when England surrendered the 50-over World Cup title last year, when Australia beat host India in the final. Salt could help provide a boost for England given his current form. He scored 435 runs in 12 games for Kolkata Knight Riders in the 2024 Indian Premier League, helping set up KKR's third title run.


Jasprit Bumrah

Age: 30

Team: India

T20 World Cup Experience: 2016 (semifinals) and 2021 (second round)

About: Since his debut in 2016, Bumrah has become the world’s foremost T20 bowler. Despite his express pace, he hasn't been able to help deliver the title his country desperately wants – India last won the T20 World Cup in 2007. He also missed the 2022 edition because of injury.

Age is still on Bumrah’s side, though, and this time around he brings both form and fitness into the tournament. He picked up 20 wickets in 12 games at a 6.48 economy and 16.80 average in the recent Indian Premier League season. It fully showcased, Bumrah’s bowling prowess in this format makes him he most potent pace threat in international T20. But he he cannot do it single-handedly, as was evident when Mumbai Indians placed last in the IPL.


Heinrich Klaasen

Age: 32

Team: South Africa

T20 World Cup Experience: 2021 (second round) and 2022 (second round)

About: Klaasen's big hitting can be compared with India’s Suryakumar Yadav, who is No. 1 in T20 batting standings. It's not so much in official rankings, but in the unpredictable yet blazing style that these two batters find proximity. Yadav is flamboyant in his shot selection, while Klaasen is more orthodox but he makes up for it in power.

Klaasen is particularly proficient against spin – with a strike rate of 158.93 – and it rises to 196.42 toward the end of a team's innings against both spin and pace. In the 2024 IPL, he affirmed this by hitting spinners at 181.36. And with spin expected to be the key factor in the second stage of the tournament, Klaasen’s contributions could help South Africa bring an end to its World Cup drought.


Rachin Ravindra

Age: 24

Team: New Zealand

T20 World Cup Experience: None

About: The young batter took the 2023 World Cup in the 50-over format by storm. Ravindra, whose first name is a mix of India’s two batting legends Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid, scored 578 runs in 10 matches to propel New Zealand’s semifinals charge. He hit a century on World Cup debut against defending champion England and appeared comfortable in high-pressure situations.

He also is a handy left-arm spinner, which helped New Zealand balance its playing XI in India and will once again be valuable in the even-shorter format in the Caribbean.

Ravindra increased his T20 experience with the Chennai Super Kings in the recent IPL, scoring 222 runs at a strike-rate of 160.86), and the Black Caps will be hoping for a World Cup repeat performance.


Nicholas Pooran

Age: 28

Team: West Indies

T20 World Cup Experience: 2021 (second round) and 2022 (first round)

About: From the Indian Premier League to the Big Bash, from SA20 to ILT20, the Hundred, the PSL, the UAE T10, the Bangladesh Premier League and, of course, the Caribbean Premier League, Pooran is now West Indies’ premier T20 export. He has taken the mantle from the likes of Chris Gayle and Dwayne Bravo, and etched out a spot for himself in franchise leagues across the globe.

Pooran is coming off a good few months of T20 cricket – he led MI Emirates to the ILT20 title in February and showed good batting form for the Lucknow Super Giants in IPL 2024. He will be the leading batter for West Indies in its home T20 World Cup – a tournament where the Caribbean team wants to make up for the first-round T20 exit in 2022 and missing out on the 2023 ODI World Cup.


AP cricket:

Chetan Narula, The Associated Press