Virender Sehwag (380 runs at 47.50, 1 100, 1 50, SR 122.58)
He may not have scored as many as others, but the impact of his runs was the most dramatic. In our view, Sehwag’s whirlwind cameo in the semi-final in the end proved the difference between the sides.
Tillakaratne Dilshan (500 runs at 62.50, 2 100s, 2 50s, SR 90.74; 8 wickets at 15.75 ER 4.06)
The tournament’s leading run scorer takes his place as the apprentice in our opening partnership to Sehwag’s sorcerer. Dilshan’s bowling was more than useful too – just ask Andrew Strauss – and he ended up with only one fewer wicket and a better economy rate than Harbhajan Singh.
Sachin Tendulkar (482 runs at 53.55, 2 100s, 2 50s, SR 91.98)
Is it sacrilegious to push the Little Master down the order to accommodate our choice of opening partnership? Maybe, but Tendulkar is clearly good enough to bat anywhere and is the ultimate team man. His longevity is astounding.
Kumar Sangakkara (465 runs at 93.00, 1 100, 3 50s, SR 83.78)
King Kumar was serenity personified throughout the tournament and he captains our side (although it was a wrench to leave out Dhoni). Is there a more underrated batsman in world cricket?
Mahela Jayawardene (304 runs at 50.66, 2 100s, 1 50, SR 100.00)
His impeccable hundred in the final leapfrogged Jayawardene above AB De Villiers in our XI. A great strike rate and but for the prolific Sri Lankan top three restricting his time at the crease, would have scored more runs in the tournament.
Yuvraj Singh (362 runs at 90.50, 1 100, 4 50s, SR 90.50; 15 wickets at 25.13, ER 5.02)
Lazarus. A cricketer reborn. And a decent pick as the player of the tournament. Yuvraj left his annus horribilis of 2010 behind to take the World Cup by the scruff of the neck. Without his masterful composure in the quarter-final against Australia, India would have suffered an ignominious exit. Also proved to be more than the pie chucker he was famously tagged by Kevin Pietersen.
Shahid Afridi (21 wickets at 12.85, ER 3.62; 84 runs at 12.00)
His batting was dire, but his excitable captaincy and devastating leg breaks galvanised Pakistan and propelled them to the semi-finals. He may not have added to his wicket tally in Mohali, but his incredible haul and impressive economy rate mean his selection for this side was automatic.
Dale Steyn (12 wickets at 16.00, ER 4.15)
This lionheart deserved better than to be part of a fragile side that reverted to type in the quarter-final against New Zealand. Others may have opted for Brett Lee, Umar Gul, Tim Southee or Kemar Roach who all had impressive tournaments, but none of these could have turned the game around against India as Steyn did in their group game.
Zaheer Khan (21 wickets at 18.76, ER 4.83)
Tied with Afridi as the tournament’s leading wicket taker and initially carried the Indian attack on his shoulders until his influence had a more positive effect on those around him in the knockout stages. Equally as dangerous at the start, middle and end of an innings and a master of reverse swinging the white ball.
Lasith Malinga (13 wickets at 20.76, ER 5.54)
Malinga was expensive at times, but was always a threat with that unplayable yorker and subtle changes of speed. So close to being the hero in the final when snaring Sehwag and Tendulkar, and always likely to get you a wicket.
Muttiah Muralitharan (15 wickets at 19.40, ER 4.09)
The final proved a match too far for Murali’s battered and bruised body, but even on one leg Murali still had a stunningly influential World Cup and the departing hero just pips Imran Tahir and Ray Price for the final spot in our XI.
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