Mahela Jayawardena, the former Sri Lanka captain and current head coach of the 5-time IPL winner Mumbai Indians (MI), has picked five players for a dream T20 XI, with Jasprit Bumrah being the only Indian player to make the cut. Rashid Khan, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Jos Buttler, and Mohammad Rizwan are the other four players on the list.
While speaking to the ICC, Jayawardena explained why Bumrah was chosen, saying that the speedster has the ability to bowl in different phases of the game and that when it comes to wicket-taking options, no one is better than him.
"Jasprit Bumrah is a guy I have always admired as he is capable of bowling in different phases of an innings. He is another wicket-taking option and, when you need guys to close an innings off, there is no one better than Jasprit Bumrah," said Mahela.
The 28-year-old has taken 67 wickets in 57 T20Is and 135 scalps in 115 IPL matches.
The batting legend chose Afghanistan leg-spinner, Rashid Khan, as his first-choice spinner because he believes bowlers are the most important aspect of T20 cricket. He reckoned that Rashid, being the world-class player that he is, is also a very useful number 7 or number 8 batter.
"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," he said.
The Sri Lanka great also picked England batter, Jos Buttler, who is in the form of his life in this year’s IPL and is the orange cap holder.
"I would probably open the batting with Jos. 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."
Buttler, who plays for the Rajasthan Royals (RR), has 588 runs in 10 innings. KL Rahul, who is second on the orange cap list, is more than 100 runs behind him in this year's league, demonstrating his dominance.
Pakistan seamer Shaheen Shah Afridi was brilliant with the ball in the last T20 World Cup in the UAE. Mahela believed that Shaheen was another wicket-taking bowler who also bowls well in the slog overs.
"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," he said.
When asked which player he would pull out of retirement to play in his dream XI, the cricketer-turned-coach picked Chris Gayle.
"I would take a 30-year-old Chris Gayle to open the batting with Jos Buttler and that would be an awesome combination. Chris would just stand still and hit and Jos would have to do all the running for him. He was at his peak at that first T20 World Cup in South Africa in 2007 and that inaugural century against South Africa was something special. I would take Chris at the top of the order as he can change a game," the MI head coach added.