Traditionally, it is held that a T20 tournament in the subcontinent is not an alluring prospect for the bowlers thanks to the largely batsmen-friendly pitches. But contrary to popular belief, bowlers have a vital role to play when it comes to the shortest format of the game. The unpredictable nature of T20 cricket means that low-scoring games, with bowlers taking centre stage, can be as entertaining and thrilling as a batsmen slamming runs at a strike rate of 200.
As the ICC World T20 2016 gets under way in India, we list five bowlers you should keep an eye out for.
Mohammad Amir's comeback to international cricket after five years in the wilderness due to fixing was contentious to say the least. Initially, he wasn't well received in the Pakistan dressing room or among the fans. He had a bad outing in his comeback tour of New Zealand and wasn't at his best in the Pakistan Super League (PSL). But he smoothed all wrinkles with his performance in the recently concluded Asia Cup, more specifically with his performance against arch-rivals India.
With that one spell, Amir's journey of redemption and transformation was complete; he was well and truly back. He also was the highest wicket-taker for Pakistan with seven wickets in four games in Asia Cup, three of which came in that inspired opening spell against India.
In the true tradition of Pakistan, his skill with the new ball and ability to use pace to unsettle batsmen even on the subcontinent pitches have never been in doubt and now that he is successfully 'reintegrated' into the team, Pakistan will be looking at him to be their key player. If they are to repeat their 2009 feat by winning their second World T20 trophy, Pakistan's famed bowling line-up must shoulder lion's share of the responsibility. Amir has done a good job of making the attack look menacing for now.
Spinners who can out-think batsmen on Indian pitches that lean towards the batters are an asset and in Ashwin, Dhoni and India have just that.
In the series against Sri Lanka, Ashwin took the lead and was India's strike bowler. He bagged nine wickets in three games at an average of less than four with the new ball. In the recently concluded Asia Cup, Ashwin played second fiddle to Ashish Nehra and Jasprit Bumrah but chipped in with wickets at crucial times.
The off-spinner has earned captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni's trust through his ability and adaptability. And in pressure-cooker situations that will abound in the World T20, Ashwin will undoubtedly be the skipper's go-to man. To boot, Ashwin is India's highest and overall second-highest T20I wicket taker in 2016 with 17 wickets in 10 games. He is also quite handy with the bat.
If India are to go the distance in the biannual event, this flexibility within a settled bowling line-up will play as crucial a role as the top-order’s batting form. Ashwin is undoubtedly the leader of that bowling attack — irrespective of when he comes in to bowl.
It's a treat to watch when a South African fast bowler steams in and rattles the batsman with his pace and accuracy. Think Alan Donald. Dale Steyn. If there is one bowler who can take over Steyn's mantle, it is young and upcoming South African quick Kagiso Rabada. He has the pace to make even the most stable batsmen doubt themselves and has an aggression to match (remember the India series?) With his variations and action, Rabada is as complete a fast bowler as they come.
All of 20, the South African already enjoys the tag of being one of the best death-bowlers in the world, and that is one of the most important aspects of T20Is. Having a good Yorker or possessing the ability to deliver subtle change of pace without any noticeable change in action are necessary tricks. Rabada's ability to stem the flow of runs make him an asset in the shortest format of the game.
In 2016, the South African quick has been the second-highest wicket-taker in T20Is for South Africa with five wickets in 3 T20 matches (Coulter-Nile, the topper, also has five wickets but he enjoys a better average). With his first major world event coming up, Rabada will be raring to go and give it his all on wickets that will be far more challenging. His performance will be one of the several pieces of the puzzle that need to fit if South Africa have any chance of winning the title.
A teenaged Mustafizur Rahman forced everyone to take notice in 2015 when he became the first bowler in history to take 11 wickets in first two ODIs. In doing so, Rahman has become an overnight sensation as Bangladesh beat India for the first time in an ODI series.
Now, with two Tests, nine ODIs and 10 T20Is under his belt, Mustafizur has managed to get both experience yet retain the mystery of 'Mysteryfizur'. The ICC World T20 will be the Bangladesh youngster's first overseas tour and he will definitely want to make his mark.
The left-hand seamer played only three games in the Asia Cup owing to an injury and played no role in the first qualifier of the ICC World T20 against the Netherlands. However, he has the ability and class to bounce back from the break and literally bounce the opposition out, armed with his pace and variations.
His cutters, through which he unsettled a powerful Indian batting line-up during the ODI series win last year have become the stuff of legend. Captain Mashrafe Mortaza rates the youngster as one of the best in business and had said that Mustafizur can upset any kind of homework done by batsmen.
Bangladesh will be banking on him if they want to continue their tradition of upsetting higher-ranked teams at world events and want to make their mark at the World T20.
Moeen Ali maybe the most talked about spinner in the England cricket but we pick Adil Rashid as the England bowler to watch out for. The leg-spinner made his debut for England only in 2015 but since then has found a regular slot in the team. But it was his performance for Adelaide Strikers in the Big Bash League that finds him a place in this list. He finished as the second-highest wicket taker with 16 wickets and was in red hot form throughout the BBL.
If he manages to carry on in the same vein, England’s chances of capturing the trophy for a second time are sure to increase. A potent spinner on the turn-friendly tracks in India will give England the much needed boost in the World T20.
Rashid has the full support of his captain as well, with Eoin Morgan praising him as an 'experienced spinner'. "Rashid in the last 12 months has progressed in leaps and bounds," Morgan said.