Tim writes for The New York Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Economist, ESPNCricinfo, and is a contributor for The New Statesman. He was named CMJ Young Journalist of the Year in 2015 and is co-author of Second XI: Cricket in its Outposts
Best batsman: Virat Kohli
The image of sad, desolate Kohli reflecting on Andre Russell thrashing his slow-medium pace for six to knock India out was no fitting epitaph for Kohli’s tournament. He had embraced the responsibility of leading India to home glory, and crafted three spectacular innings: 55 not out against Pakistan; 82 not out against Australia; and 89 not out, this time batting first, against the West Indies. Each was an exhibition of high-class orthodoxy, mixing finesse gliding the ball into gaps, alacrity running the wickets, rare skill in minimising dot balls, and power when the need dictated.
Best bowler: Samuel Badree
What Badree, a sometime PE teacher, lacks in razzmatazz he more than makes up for in effectiveness. So it was again in the 2016 WT20, when Badree’s unrelenting accuracy opening the bowling with his legspin was again to the fore. He was comfortably the West Indies’ most economical bowler in both the final and semi-final, when taking 1-26 from four overs on such a flat wicket was a testament to Badree’s temperament and skill, to reaffirm why is he ranked the world’s best T20I bowler.
Best allrounder: Andre Russell
Belting the ball with power and refinement, as with 43* to knock India out in the semi-finals; fielding with élan; bowling with pace, a lethal yorker and a coterie of slower balls. It was quite the tournament for Andre Russell, who looks the prototype of the modern T20 allrounder.
Biggest surprise: New Zealand’s spinners
New Zealand is not a country brimful of spinners, so Kane Williamson could have been forgiven for reacting to the Nagpur wicket used for the match with India – slow, and offering copious turn – with trepidation. Not a bit of it. Nathan McCullum, an offspinner with little turn but lots of nous, took a wicket in the first over. Then Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi, who were both playing the sixth T20I of their careers, bowled with control and bite. The upshot was that New Zealand’s spin trio ended with absurd figures of 9-44 from their 11 overs. It paved the way for New Zealand’s rise to the semi-finals. Santner and Sodhi shared 20 wickets at 11.7 apiece, allowing the Black Caps to successfully defend targets in all four of their Super 10 matches.
Breakthrough player: Mustafizur Rahman
Since making his international debut last June, Mustafizur Rahman has marked himself out as a unique bowler for his array of cutters and the accuracy with which he delivers them. On the world stage, he confirmed himself a star. He ended the tournament with nine wickets at 9.55 apiece, but the real testament to his supreme skill is the utter confusion he bred in opposing batsmen, unable to pick which variation was coming next. As the IPL and a stint in county cricket loom, perhaps Mustafizur’s biggest risk is overexposure.
Biggest disappointment: David Warner
David Warner’s tournament began with much Australian excitement over his new role in the middle order, especially after he thumped 77 from 40 balls in a T20I at Johannesburg 12 days before Australia’s opening game. It ended with him scoring 38 runs in four innings, a man unsure of his role in the team and looking like he was not worth a place in it. If the man who pioneered the T20-to-Tests career path floundering in the shortest format is perplexing, really it reflects how little international T20 Warner plays: a derisory three games between April 2014 and March 2016.
Upset of the tournament: Afghanistan defeating the West Indies
With apologies to Oman, who pulled off an extraordinary heist over Ireland in Dharamsala, Afghanistan’s victory over the West Indies was a moment for the ages. Their cricketing skill is well established, as they highlighted by ditching their renowned seamers for a plethora of spinners all tournament, but never before had they defeated a side in cricket’s traditional top eight. That Afghanistan were the only side to defeat the West Indies all tournament added to the sense of achievement, and made their case for more matches – besides the World Cup and World T20, they have only played three games, across all formats, against the top nine teams in history – more compelling.
Broken heart award: Peter Borren
In 2014, the Netherlands chased down 190 against Ireland within 14 overs, knocked out Zimbabwe in the first stage and then beat England for the second time in WT20 history. Their reward? They had to progress through an arduous pre-qualifier in Ireland and Scotland last year. After playing eight games, they ended as joint winners. In their opening game against Bangladesh, the Dutch again showed their T20 calibre, but were piped by eight runs. Two days later, their game against Oman was rained off and, with no reserve days, they were out.
“Emotional and pretty devastated,” was captain Peter Borren’s reaction. With good reason. The game against Bangladesh was the Netherlands’ only match against a Test nation since beating England in 2014, and looms as their last T20I against a full member until 2020, while the proportion of ICC revenue spent on associate nations was halved after the ICC reforms of 2014, which gave more money to the top nations. Even a win over Ireland in a truncated game could not ease Borren’s pain. His team only have three more international fixtures to look forward to in the rest of 2016.
Biggest choke: Bangladesh
As Mushfiqur Rahim pumped his fists, so he thought he had sealed one of the most memorable wins in Bangladesh cricket history. But with two needed from three balls to beat India – and just one needed to secure a super over – Bangladesh threw it all away; a collective meltdown that will not easily be shaken off.