The T20 format captured the attention of the fans during the 2007 WT20 held in South Africa and has become the most popular format of the game ever since. It is believed to be a batsman-friendly format since the number of overs is quite less which allows them to take risks right from the first ball. The advent of new batting techniques has led to several batsmen scoring runs at an unimaginable quick rate. Earlier, it was difficult for a batsman to even score 100 runs in a 50 overs match but the West Indian batsman Chris Gayle had once smashed 175 runs in a T20 innings which shows how much the batsmen have dominated the game.
As many as 36 centuries have been scored in the T20 internationals and 4 of them have come from the bat of Indian opener Rohit Sharma, who holds the record for the most T20I centuries. But, he wasn't the first batsman to score a century for his country. Here are the top 10 T20I teams and their first ever T20I centurions:
#1 West Indies - Chris Gayle 117 (57) vs South Africa, ICC World T20 2007
Chris Gayle has established himself as the best T20 batsman on the planet with his explosive batting skills. He was the player to have scored a hundred in T20Is when he did so in the 1st match of inaugural WT20 in 2007. Playing against hosts South Africa, Gayle opened the innings for WI and played a mesmerizing inning of 117 runs which included 7 fours and 10 sixes. However, his maiden century was not enough for Windies to win their first WT20 match as South Africa chased down their target easily.
#2 New Zealand - Brendon McCullum 116* (56) vs Australia, 2010
New Zealand wicket-keeper Brendon McCullum became the second batsman to score a T20I hundred when the right-handed batsman achieved this feat against Australia. It took almost 2 and a half years for a batsman to score a T20I hundred after Chris Gayle. Playing in Christchurch, McCullum opened the innings for New Zealand and attacked the Australian bowlers right from the first ball.
He remained not out on 116 off 56 deliveries at the end of overs. Bazz smashed 12 fours and 8 sixes in his aggressive knock and led New Zealand to a mammoth 214/6 in 20 overs. However, Australia too managed to score 214 in their 20 overs leading the match to a super over. The Aussies could only 6 runs batting first while the home side chased down the target in just 4 balls to level the T20I series.
#3 India - Suresh Raina 101 (60) vs South Africa, ICC WT20 2010
Indian middle order batsman Suresh Raina became the first Indian batsman to score a 100 in T20 internationals during the ICC WT20 in 2010. In a group stage match against the Proteas, India lost Murali Vijay on the 2nd ball of the innings which invited Suresh Raina to bat. The Uttar Pradesh born all-rounder defied the South African bowlers on a sunny day in Gros Islet and played one of the best innings of his career.
Raina amassed 101 runs off 60 balls before losing his wicket in the 20th over to Albie Morkel. He hit 9 fours and 5 sixes and had a blistering strike rate of 168.33. A clinical bowling performance by the bowlers led India to an easy win against South Africa as Raina was adjudged the man of the match for his supreme knock.
#4 Sri Lanka - Mahela Jayawardene 100 (64) vs Zimbabwe, ICC WT20 2010
Mahela Jayawardene was one of the best ODI batsmen but very few would remember that he was the first Sri Lankan player to score a hundred in T20I format. While opening the innings against Zimbabwe in a group stage match of ICC WT20 2010, Jayawardene played one of the most classy knocks in T20I history. He paced his innings well and notched up his maiden T20I hundred in 64 balls.
The Sri Lankan opener smashed 10 fours and 4 sixes during his innings and helped Sri Lanka reach 173/7 in their 20 overs. However, the 2nd innings of the match was reduced to 5 overs and Zimbabwe were set a target of 44 runs. Sri Lanka won the match by 14 runs and Mahela Jayawardene received the man of the match in that game.
#5 South Africa - Richard Levi 117* (51) vs New Zealand, 2012
Richard Levi burst onto the international cricket with a magnificent century in the early stages of his T20I career. Levi demolished the New Zealand bowling attack chasing a target of 174 in a T20I match at Hamilton. The South African opener played like a one-man army as he did not get enough support from the other end. But that did not stop Levi as he hit 5 fours and 13 sixes to become the first South African to score a T20I hundred.
The Man of the match Levi scored 117 out of the required 174 runs and inspired the Proteas to an eight-wicket win with 4 overs to spare. He even earned an IPL contract with Mumbai Indians that year but failed to repeat his magic. The South African team management have ignored Levi since December 2012 due to his constant failures.
#6 Australia - Aaron Finch 156 (63) vs England, 2013
Aaron Finch became the first batsman to score a 150+ individual score in international T20s against England in 2013. Batting first at Southampton, Finch mercilessly destroyed the English pace attack smashing 11 fours and 14 sixes in his record-breaking innings. The opener took 26 balls to score his first 50 runs, added the next 50 in 21 balls and brought up his 150 by playing just 13 more balls.
Finch had 2 hundred-run partnerships with Shaun Marsh for the 2nd wicket and with Shane Watson for the 3rd wicket as he led Australia to a gigantic total of 248/6 in 20 overs. Joe Root's 90 helped England reach closer to the target but ultimately they fell short by 39 runs as Australia's Aaron Finch was rightly awarded the man of the match award.
#7 England - Alex Hales 116*(64) vs Sri Lanka, ICC WT20 2014
It took nearly 9 years for an English batsman to score a T20I hundred as Alex Hales broke the jinx and became the first Englishman to score a century in T20 international cricket. In a group stage match of the ICC WT20 2014 against Sri Lanka, the mighty Lankan side set a target of 190 for the England side. The English team lost opener Micheal Lumb and Moeen Ali in the very first over of the chase.
But the other opener, Alex Hales launched an onslaught from the other end as he along with Eoin Morgan stitched a 152 runs partnership and took England close to the total. Morgan departed in the 17th over but Hales continued his attack and took England home with his knock of 116 runs.
#8 Pakistan - Ahmed Shehzad 111*(62) vs Bangladesh, ICC WT20 2014
Ahmed Shehzad played one of the best innings by a Pakistani batsman in T20 internationals as he became the first player from his country to score a hundred in T20Is in 2014. Pakistan faced off against hosts Bangladesh in a group stage match of the ICC WT20 2014 and batted first. Their opener A Shehzad led the charge and brutalized the Bangladeshi bowlers.
He remained unbeaten on 111 off 62 balls after the completion of 20 overs as Pakistan finished their innings on 190/5. No other Pakistani batsman could score more than 26 runs as Ahmed single-handedly blew away the Bangladeshi challenge. He was awarded the man of the match for his blistering knock as it helped Pakistan defeat Bangladesh by 50 runs in a vital match of the ICC WT20 2014.
#9 Afghanistan - Mohammad Shahzad 118* (67) vs Zimbabwe, 2016
Mohammad Shahzad has been remarked as the face of the Afghan batting line-up as his quick-paced innings at the top helps Afghanistan score huge totals in T20Is. The same happened in a T20I match against Zimbabwe in 2016 when the two sides clashed in the U.A.E. Batting first, M Shahzad opened the innings along with U Ghani. While Shahzad's partners kept on changing, the opener played a determined inning and stayed not out till the end of the innings.
He whacked 10 fours and 8 sixes in his knock and became the first player from Afghanistan to register a T20I hundred to his name. His huge innings helped Afghanistan post 215 on the board. Eventually, Zimbabwe fell short of the target by 81 runs and M Shahzad won the man of the match award for his fantastic batting.
#10 Bangladesh - Tamim Iqbal 103*(63) vs Oman, ICC WT20 2016
In the first round of the ICC WT20 2016, Bangladesh played Oman in what was one of the most lop-sided matched of the WT20 history. Batting first, Bangladesh scored 180/2 in their 20 overs riding high on opener Tamim Iqbal's maiden T20I century. The left-handed batsman scored 103 runs off 63 balls and hit 10 fours and 5 sixes to lead Bangladesh to such a mighty total.
The Oman batsmen struggled to even play out the entire 20 overs as they finished with a paltry 65/9 in 20 overs losing the match by 115 runs. They could not even match Tamim Iqbal's total and crashed out of the ICC WT20 2016 after this defeat.