Ben Stokes (England), Shubman Gill (India), Babar Azam (Pakistan), Virat Kohli (India), Steve Smith (Australia), and Kane Williamson (New Zealand) are the six hitters to watch in the World Cup in India. The legendary all-rounder Stokes has previously demonstrated his form by scoring 182 runs against New Zealand. Gill, who is rated second in the ODI rankings, has been in outstanding form. An important anchor in Pakistan’s upper order continues to be Babar Azam.
The following are five batters to watch at the World Cup in India:
The legendary all-arounder returned to ODI play in August, and since then, his 182 runs against New Zealand last month, which ranked as England’s greatest individual total in the format, have served as a message to his championship rivals.
Stokes has only played as a specialist batter since his comeback, despite being the inspiration behind England’s maiden World Cup success in 2019 and a crucial member of the T20 World Cup title run the year before.
Stokes’ 40.50 ODI average is his highest across all three forms, and his 96+ strike rate makes him a potent middle-order weapon.
Gill has been in excellent form this year, amassing 1,230 runs in 20 games and reaching a career-high global ranking of two in ODIs.
The 24-year-old has the most goals at the most recent Asia Cup, which India won to capture their eighth title. His relationship with captain Rohit Sharma will be crucial once more if the World Cup hosts hope to repeat their 2011 success by winning the competition at home.
Gill is one of a select group of hitters who have scored a century in every format of international competition, including a double century against New Zealand earlier this year in an ODI.
The top-ranked ODI batsman remains a critical pillar in Pakistan’s top order despite a lacklustre Asia Cup performance as they attempt to recover from recent setbacks.
Pakistan’s World Cup campaign may be hampered by the injury to fast bowler Naseem Shah, but Babar’s prowess at the plate ensures they are still a strong squad and can still put up big totals.
The graceful right-hander averages 58.16 in ODIs and can score whenever he wants, despite lacking natural power.
Virat Kohli, perhaps the biggest name in international cricket and one of India’s all-time greatest players, has won almost all of the major championships. The 34-year-old is still among the sport’s fittest players despite his advanced age, and he continues to score runs with an almost unbelievable regularity.
With three centuries this year, Kohli is now only one ODI century short of Indian great Sachin Tendulkar’s record of 49. The former captain of India, who played on the team that won the World Cup in 2011, has vowed to win another championship for the cricket-obsessed nation.
In the lead-up to the competition, Kohli said, “The memories of past World Cup victories, especially the iconic 2011 win, are etched in our hearts. We want to create new memories for our fans.”
Even though he was still healing from a wrist injury incurred during the Ashes, the 34-year-old was selected for the World Cup team. As Australia ended a five-match losing streak, he struck 74 in the third ODI against India after hitting 41 and going for a golden duck in the previous two matches of their comeback against India.
In particular, given the loss to Travis Head, Australia’s tournament-opening player, a return to form for Smith would be crucial to the team’s hopes of challenging for a sixth title.
In this week’s World Cup warm-up games against Pakistan, the 33-year-old Black Caps skipper, who tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) during the Indian Premier League in March, made his recovery.
As he continues his recuperation, he won’t play in the first game against England on October 5.
Williamson will participate in his fourth World Cup after being voted player of the competition in 2019 following New Zealand’s heartbreaking loss to England in the championship match. Having scored more than 6,500 runs in the format, his return to the crease will be a significant help.
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