Players to Watch at the 2019 ICC World Cup

Vishal Chauhan, 24/05/2019
Players to Watch at the 2019 ICC World Cup

At a big ticket tournament like the ICC World Cup, the spotlight is always on the big players and the big names to step up and fulfil the expectations of their fans. Virat Kohli, Jos Buttler, Rohit Sharma and David Warner are some of the players who start the tournament in England with the pressure of knowing their performances will be detrimental to how far their teams go in the big event.

However, there are some players who have mostly gone unnoticed in the run-up to the World Cup and will be waiting to unleash their potential over the next seven weeks. Here’s a look at some of the unheralded members of the 10 teams that are competing in this year’s edition.

(Photo: Twitter)

Gulbadin Naib (Afghanistan)

Afghanistan has shown in the past couple of years that they are not all about Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi and Mohammed Shahzad. In fact, many talented Afghan players have come on to the international scene and made their marks.

One of them is Gulbadin Naib and he has also been given the responsibility of leading the side in the World Cup. He is a hard hitting seam bowling all-rounder who has five fifties and 50 wickets to his name in 55 ODIs so far.

The 28-year old recently registered career best bowling figures of 6/43 against Ireland at Belfast and thus became only the fourth player in ODI history to register a 6-wicket haul while leading the team.

(Photo: AP)

Usman Khawaja (Australia)

While the spotlight will be on star players like Steve Smith, David Warner and Glenn Maxwell, it is Usman Khawaja who could steal the show with his blistering batting performances.

Khawaja’s ODI career is only 31 matches old, yet he has over 1000 runs to his name at an average of 44.21.

In fact, he has had a fabulous start to this year having scored 769 runs in 13 matches at an average of 59.15. Both of his two ODI centuries have come in this year only and he would be eager to carry this momentum forward into the World Cup tourney which is just a week away.

(Photo: AP)

Soumya Sarkar (Bangladesh)

The 26-year old left-handed batsman has stepped up with his batting in the last couple of years. While the spotlight has always been on premier players like Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim, Tamim Iqbal and Mahmudullah Riyad, Sarkar has silently gone on to do his job for Bangladesh. He has scored exactly 500 runs in a total of 12 innings since 2018 at a healthy average of 41.6 and an excellent strike-rate of 107. He could turn out to be a nightmare for bowlers on the flat pitches of England.

(Photo: AP)

Tom Curran (England)

English fans and pundits have been so obsessed about Jofra Archer’s inclusion in England’s World Cup squad that Tom Curran’s excellent all-round contributions of late have totally gone unnoticed.

The 24-year old seam bowling all-rounder has 27 wickets in 17 matches at an average of 29.81 and an excellent strike-rate of 28.2. Moreover, he is more than a handy batsman lower down the order. His tally of 178 runs in 11 innings at an average of 44.50, strike-rate of 107.22 and a best of an unbeaten 47*, proves his consistency of contributing with the bat during the slog overs.

(Photo: AP)

Vijay Shankar (India)

The Tamil Nadu all-rounder is a wild card pick in India’s World Cup squad. He made his ODI debut in the series against New Zealand only a couple of months back and impressed the selectors with a couple of 40s in the middle order against the Kiwis and against Australia at home afterwards.

He can bowl handy seam-ups as well which will be very useful in English conditions. The flat pitches in England will suit his kind of batting too.

At the moment, he has 165 runs to his name in 5 innings at an average of 33.00. Chief Selector MSK Prasad has also confirmed that he will be India's primary choice at No. 4. Hence, he will have a crucial role to play.

(Photo: AP)

Jimmy Neesham (New Zealand)

The Kiwi all-rounder is one of the most dangerous players in the world. He is equally capable with both bat and ball and has an ODI batting and bowling average of of 30.75 and 34.59 respectively.

However, he has unleashed himself as a different kind of beast this year. He has picked up 10 wickets in 8 ODIs this year at an excellent average of 22.90.

Moreover, his exploits with the bat, which sum up to a tally of 204 runs in 5 innings at an average of 68.00 and a monstrous strike-rate of 182.14, should ring alarm bells for other teams.

(Photo: AP)

Imam Ul Haq (Pakistan)

The 23-year old Pakistani opener has unleashed himself as a run machine in ODIs. Since making his debut towards the end of 2017, he has scored 1387 runs in 28 matches at a mammoth average of 60.30.

Three of his six ODI centuries have come against top teams like South Africa, England and Sri Lanka, and that sums up his credibility as a batsman. Moreover, he registered his career best score of 151 runs in the recently concluded ODI series against England and thus gave a teaser of what to expect from him this World Cup.

(Photo: AP)

Lungi Ngidi (South Africa)

It is hard to notice anyone else when Kagiso Rabada and Dale Steyn are in action together. However, Lungi Ngidi has proved that he is equally lethal and has the capability to match the bowling abilities of his fellow teammates Steyn and Rabada.

The 23-year old has made a terrific start to his ODI career. With 34 wickets in 18 matches at an average of 21.64, the South African pace-machine has only strengthened the Proteas bowling department. In conditions where batsmen are expected to dominate, Ngidi will prove himself quite tough to handle.

(Photo: IANS)

Isuru Udana (Sri Lanka)

Thisara Perera might be Sri Lanka’s primary all-rounder but the 21-year old Isuru Udana has announced himself as someone capable of matching his abilities. He has played just 6 ODIs so far but he proved his hard hitting abilities with a knock of 78 off just 57 deliveries against South Africa at Port Elizabeth a couple of months back.

While his sample size is small in ODIs, he has played enough T20Is to prove his mettle. He averages 28.83 with the bat in 21 T20Is along with an excellent strike-rate of 153.09. He has picked up 17 wickets with his left-arm medium pace as well at a strike-rate of 24.7 and that sums up how valuable he could prove to be to the Sri Lankan side.

(Photo: IANS)

Nicholas Pooran (West Indies)

The 23-year old wicketkeeper-batsman hasn’t opened his account in ODI cricket so far as he has played just a solitary match. However, he has proved his mettle enough in T20I cricket to justify his selection for the World Cup. In 11 T20Is so far, Pooran has scored 218 runs along with two fifties and has an excellent overall strike-rate of 140.64 as well.

His hard hitting abilities in the middle-order will give bowlers a tough time in the supreme batting conditions in England. His availability in the middle order will make the Windies batting lineup an unending procession of big hitters capable of running any top team’s chances in the mega event.

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