Ranking the top 5 spin attacks ahead of the T20 World Cup 2024 ft. South Africa

England v South Africa - 1st Royal London Series One Day International
Tabraiz Shamsi and Keshav Maharaj lead South Africa's spin-bowling attack.

We're less than 48 hours away from the start of the 2024 Men's T20 World Cup in the USA and the West Indies. Twenty teams are preparing for the tournament in full flow in their own ways, either by taking part in warm-up matches, playing bilateral series' with other opponents, or even through playing in T20 leagues such as the IPL.

The squads of all the teams have been finalized, and on paper, there is set to be a tough fight for the four semi-final spots that they're playing for. Apart from the unpredictable weather, another feature of the Caribbean and US conditions is that they offer some purchase to the spinners, who should be an integral part of any team's setup.

On that note, let's rank the top five spin-bowling attacks ahead of the T20 World Cup.

Honorable Mention: England

#5 New Zealand

Mitchell Santner is one of the most dependable spinners in world cricket.
Mitchell Santner is one of the most dependable spinners in world cricket.

Spin-Bowling Options: Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Glenn Phillips, Rachin Ravindra, and Michael Bracewell.

New Zealand has always operated with an effective and economical bowling attack regardless of the format and they have some quality spin-bowling options in their ranks. While Rachin Ravindra and Michael Bracewell may find it tough to make the playing XI, they are effective finger spinners who bowl consistently and regularly despite batting being their primary suit.

However, the variety and reliability of their two front-line spinners and the all-round option of Glenn Phillips puts them in the top five, edging out England in the process. Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi, while not the most wicket-taking bowlers, provide Kane Williamson and Co. with plenty of control in the middle overs.

Glenn Phillips has also massively improved his bowling, reaching the level of Aiden Markram, Will Jacks, and Glenn Maxwell regarding his off-spin.

While not the most deadly spin-bowling attack, the Blackcaps should keep things tight and controlled in spin-friendly conditions in this World Cup.

#4 South Africa

Spin-Bowling Options: Keshav Maharaj, Tabraiz Shamsi, Aiden Markram, Tristan Stubbs, and Bjorn Fortuin.

The Proteas have a compact and solid spin-bowling attack that skipper Aiden Markram can place complete faith in going into the World Cup. Tabraiz Shamsi's wicket-taking ability and Keshav Maharaj's control make for a perfect combination, and it's very unlikely that any opponent can stop the duo from bowling their quota of eight overs.

Skipper Aiden Markram is a potent off-spinner capable of taking the new ball, providing South Africa with another dimension of attack with the ball against left-handed openers. Tristan Stubbs, as he showed in the IPL, is also a handy off-spinner to use in the middle overs.

The miserly left-arm spinner Bjorn Fortuin is a perfect backup for Keshav Maharaj, rounding out a solid Proteas spin-bowling attack that doesn't have too many holes.

#3 Sri Lanka

Wanindu Hasaranga is the No.2-ranked bowler in the ICC T20I Rankings.
Wanindu Hasaranga is the No.2-ranked bowler in the ICC T20I Rankings.

Spin-Bowling Options: Maheesh Theekshana, Wanindu Hasaranga, Dunith Wellalage, Dhananjaya de Silva, and Kamindu Mendis.

Sri Lanka has a top-notch spin-bowling lineup helmed by two of the best T20I spinners according to the ICC Rankings, Wanindu Hasaranga (No.2) and Maheesh Theekshana (No.4). Capable of bowling at multiple stages of the game, Theekshana is both a wicket-taking and a run-containing option.

At the same time, the skipper Hasaranga is arguably the most wicket-taking spinner in white-ball cricket right now.

They're likely to be aided by the presence of Dhananjaya de Silva in the playing XI. DDS is an extremely reliable and experienced off-spinner who is an often under-utilized player who can handle pressure and bowl in different conditions and match situations.

Dunith Wellalage and Kamindu Mendis provide spin-bowling options from the bench. The left-arm spin of Wellalage worked in Sri Lankan conditions in ODI cricket, but despite his obvious talent, he is an untested commodity in T20s and playing outside Sri Lanka.

Lastly, Kamindu Mendis could also come into the playing XI in place of DDS, and he could prove to be a useful spin-bowling option as he's ambidextrous and capable of bowling both right-arm off-spin and left-arm orthodox.

#2 Afghanistan

Afghanistan has a stellar spin-bowling lineup that will be their X-Factor this season.
Afghanistan has a stellar spin-bowling lineup that will be their X-Factor this season.

Spin-Bowling Options: Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Noor Ahmad, Mohammad Nabi, and Nangeyalia Kharote.

There's not much separating Afghanistan from first place, but Rashid Khan's dwindling returns since his shoulder surgery, and some lean returns for Mujeeb and Noor Ahmad in their last T20 outings are a slight cause of concern. However, on paper, Afghanistan possesses a multi-dimensional and deadly spin-bowling attack that could wreak havoc on opposition batters in these conditions.

Arguably the greatest T20 bowler since his debut, Rashid Khan will look to lead his side from the front and bowl with an attacking mindset, primarily in the middle overs. Noor Ahmad should partner Rashid as he does at the Gujarat Titans, and once they hit their stride with the ball, it's very difficult to score off or pick their bowling.

The other mystery spinner, Mujeeb ur Rahman, is a very effective option in the powerplay, increasing the versatility of their new ball attack. The experience and accuracy of Mohammad Nabi should also come in handy for Afghanistan as the former captain is capable of sending down four overs with minimal damage.

Young Nangeyalia Kharote is unlikely to get a game, but he provides another dimension to the bowling lineup with his left-arm orthodox.

#1 India

Spin-Bowling Options: Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Axar Patel, and Ravindra Jadeja.

The form, international experience, and overall quality of their spinners puts India at the top of this list. Eyebrows were raised when four genuine spin bowlers were selected in India's squad for the World Cup, but given their exploits in both the IPL and international cricket, they could definitely prove their doubters wrong.

The Kul-Cha combination has been reunited, and the wrist spin duo should be India's X-Factor in the tournament, providing both control and an insane wicket-taking edge. Chahal has consistently featured at the top of wicket-taking lists in the IPL, while Kuldeep Yadav's second wind has made him India's 2nd-most important bowler behind Jasprit Bumrah.

Coming to the finger spinners, both Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel are extremely accurate and skillful bowlers who can rush through their overs. If there's even a hint of support for spinners in the wicket, they will make the most of it, making it extremely risky to take chances off their bowling.

While the absence of an off-spinner is noticeable in India's spin quartet, the variety and quality of their four spinners is their main trump card in this tournament.

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