They have the ability to turn a game on its head. Their blend of unorthodoxy with textbook cricket shots can leave the opposition bowlers confounded and frustrated. We are talking about the power-hitters, who with a combination of brute force, timing, excellent hand-eye coordination, bat swing and speed, clear the boundary with unerring ease and electrify the game. Here’s our list of some of the best power hitters in the game today (in no particular order):
“Destructive best” is a phrase that has often been used to describe the West Indian’s batting. Little wonder then that at 186.41, he boasts the highest strike rate in the Indian Premier League. Primarily a finisher, Russell has singlehandedly won games for his country and franchises from seemingly unwinnable positions. Remember his 48 not out from 13 balls for Kolkata Knight Riders against Royal Challengers Bangalore in 2019 when he scored 28 runs in the 19th over to leave RCB shell-shocked? His brutal yet clean hitting characterised by the powerful bat swing, where he manages to clear the boundaries with unerring and consummate ease, also led him to be named as Wisden’s “Leading T20 Cricketer in the World in 2019”. A high-impact player, his eye is in from ball one, the power he gets in his shots truly breath-taking – a true colossus in the T20 game.
"You don't need just big muscles or power to hit sixes," Rohit Sharma told Yuzvendra Chahal on bcci.tv after beating Bangladesh in the second T20 of the three match-series in India in November 2019. "You need timing and you need to hit it from the middle….” Rohit should know – the first Indian to hit a T20I hundred, the second-highest run-getter in shortest format and the only batsman to score 4 centuries in T20Is – Rohit’s power stems from his impeccable timing. One of the prettiest batsmen in the game today, it’s hard to come across someone who plays the pull shot as elegantly as him. Or one who destroys the opposition bowlers while essaying such a graceful symphony of shots.
AB de Villiers
The Original Mr 360 degrees, de Villiers’s shots often defies belief. While most batsmen usually have a Plan A and Plan B for a particular delivery, de Villiers often has between four to five shots in his repertoire. His scoop shot, where he can guide even a yorker over the wicketkeeper’s head is a testimony to his amazing skill. He uses the whole crease with great effect and his lofted drives straight down the ground are authoritative, powerful and truly a thing of beauty. His electrifying batting encompassing a stunning range of shots for the Royal Challengers Bangalore have made him the darling of the local crowds.
The self-christened ‘Universe Boss’ is quite possibly the first cricketer that everyone thinks of when you hear the words “power hitter” and “T20 cricket”. Though he appears languid, often lazy at the crease, the power he generates in his shots is incomparable – is there any boundary that Gayle hasn’t cleared? The power that Gayle infuses in his shots, courtesy his long muscular forearms, have allowed him to hit 954 sixes in the T20 format – will he be able to break the 1000-mark barrier this IPL? He has dominated the shorter format like no other batsman in the history of the game.
There’s something about West Indian batsmen and power hitting isn’t it? Their sheer athleticism allows them to bring an effortless power to their batting rarely seen among batsmen of other countries. And at 6’5”, Pollard stands tall among them, quite literally! His aggression and brute force are the ideal foil to his Mumbai Indians captain’s lyrical timing. In a recent Caribbean Premier League game, Pollard, who captains the Trinbago Knight Riders hit two one-handed sixes, a testimony to his sheer power! Much like his West Indian counterparts on this list, Pollard’s powerful batting has its roots in his exceptional bat swing that generates the speed and power required to hit those massive sixes out of the park!
Muscular arms aren’t everything – just look at the lithe Pandya, who uses his wrists to essay some of the most stunning helicopter shots cricket fans have seen (after MS Dhoni’s of course!). His aggressive intent, superb hand-eye coordination coupled with an exaggerated bat lift and swing give him the ability to hit the ball long distances, especially straight down the ground, which is his zone. Add to the mix his exceptional timing – when Pandya hits the ball, it stays hit!
Known for her effortless stroke play and timing, India’s Smriti Mandhana, has over the last couple of years, added another important element to her batting arsenal – power. Around two years she brought about slight changes in her stance and technique, which gave her the much-needed power to play lofted shots and clear the rope straight down the ground. Some of her more memorable knocks in recent times include a blistering 67 off 46 deliveries on India’s tour of West Indies in 2019, in what turned out to be a record stand for India in their first T20 game of the series. She also scored a belligerent 66 (37), albeit in a losing chase against Australia, in the final of the Australia Tri-Nation Women’s T20 series in March this year.
During the recently concluded ICC Women’s T20 World Cup, it was an Indian batsman who vaulted to the top spot in the ICC rankings – 16-year-old Shafali Varma. The diminutive Varma was India’s highest scorer in the World Cup with 163 runs across 5 games at a blistering strike-rate of 158.25. With 18 fours and 9 sixes (the most for the tournament, along with Australia’s Alyssa Healy), she gave ample display of the power in her shoulders as she wielded the long handle.
After Australia’s exit from the 2017 World Cup, the wicketkeeper-batsman worked hard at expanding her repertoire. In came the sweep shot, more power and the ability to penetrate the field with shots to different parts of the ground. And the results have borne fruit, and how. In this year’s ICC Women’s T20 World Cup, Healy was the player of the final. Her fifty, off 30 balls was the quickest in an ICC final – men or women. Her match winning knock of 75 (39) was liberally sprinkled with moments of sheer brilliance, like when she hit three connective sixes of Shikha Pandey. Healy’s tournament stats stood at 236 runs at a strike-rate of little over 156, testimony to her brilliance, skill and power.
The first woman to score a T20I century, West Indies’ Diandra Dottin is one of the earliest power hitters in the women’s game. Her aggressive style makes her one of the most dangerous batsmen in women’s cricket. Her record-breaking knock against South Africa in 2010 - 112 of 38 deliveries - included five fours and a whopping nine sixes. This hard-hitting lower order batsman has the ability to turn the game on its head, thanks to her burning desire to go for everything!