Who will be the World Cup’s leading run-scorer?
Date: February 6, 2015 / Posted by Glenn Mitchell
Co-host Australia will likely roll-out David Warner, Aaron Finch, Shane Watson and Steve Smith as its top four with Michael Clarke likely to bat at five when he returns to the side given Smith’s amazing summer in all forms of the game.
Smith’s biggest challenge will simply be trying to continue the stellar form he has displayed over recent months.
Warner continues to mature as a batsman and no longer is simply the carefree swashbuckling entertainer he was when he first entered international ranks.
He has the propensity to read the play nowadays and can build an innings rather than look to pummel from ball one.
Nonetheless it is a fair bet that in the odd match he will tee off early and ride his luck and should it be with him on those days bowlers will be ducking for cover.
New Zealand, the other host nation, will no doubt relish the familiarity of home conditions.
The Black Caps are renowned for punching above their weight at major tournaments and 2015 is likely to provide more of the same with a semi-final berth a strong chance.
Their innings will be framed around skipper Brendan McCullum, Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor.
McCullum can be every bit as devastating as Warner when he is going – he has a strike rate of 120 from his eight ODIs this year – while Taylor is more of an accumulator but an equally heavy scorer.
Williamson has already compiled two ODI centuries in 2015 and at 24 – and with Test and ODI averages of 46 – is the future of New Zealand’s batting.
He possesses a well-honed defensive technique that is allied to some classy strokeplay.
India will once again rely heavily on its batting as it endeavours to retain the title.
Virat Kohli will be the barometer for the defending champions.
His record at one-day level places him among the best to have played the abridged form – at 26 he already has over 6000 runs and 21 centuries.
But one man cannot get the job done.
Rohit Sharma, the only player to post two one-day double centuries including a world record 264 last year, has to fire.
So too do the likes of Shikhar Dhawan and rising talent Ajinka Rahane, who impressed during the recent Test series.
When it comes to South Africa two names leap off the page – A B De Villiers and Hashim Amla.
The pair is very different in method but the results are the same – lots of runs at a rapid clip.
De Villiers is quite simply a freak with regard to the areas he can access on the ground.
His astonishing world record 31-ball century against the West Indies last month is testament to his unbridled talent.
We can expect to be royally entertained by shots to all parts of the ground from the audacious ramp over the ‘keeper to lofted drives back over the bowler’s head.
Amla bats with the wristy mastery of the great Indian batsmen.
Balls that would be expected to be defended into the off-side are flicked through mid-wicket for four.
He is equally strong through point.
Already this year he has 413 ODI runs at 206 with a strike rate of 110 – bowlers beware!
Sri Lanka is likely to be thereabouts come the end of the tournament thanks in part to its batting stocks.
Veterans Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene and Tillakaratne Dilshan will be responsible for some big totals.
Sangakkara is cricket’s red wine.
He will play his 400th ODI early in the World Cup and needs only 12 runs to move pass Ricky Ponting as the second-highest run-scorer in history.
With one of the most attractive cover-drives in the game he boasts an average of 64 from his seven matches this year.
Dilshan has already peeled off two tons in 2015 while Jayawardene, with 441 matches behind him, will be the most experienced player at the tournament.
With innings of 104 and 94 in last month’s ODI series in New Zealand he has shown he still has the goods.
Chris Gayle will be looking to spearhead the West Indies’ hopes.
His ability to destroy opposition attacks is well-known but in his 36th year his powers are diminishing witnessed by the fact that he has scored only one half-century in his last 17 innings.
While we can still expect the odd cameo from Gayle much of the responsibility with the bat will fall to the likes of Marlon Samuels and Darren Bravo.
England has taken to using Ian Bell as an opener in recent times.
It worked a treat in the recent tri-series with an innings of 88 not out against India and a superb 141 against Australia at Hobart.
Joe Root will be another whom England will be hoping to build its innings around.
Younis Khan will be yet another veteran willow wielder at this year’s World Cup.
At 37, he recently forced his way back into Pakistan’s ODI line-up.
He destroyed Australia in the Test series in the UAE last year but his impact will likely be less dramatic in this tournament.
Opener Mohammad Hafeez and skipper Misbah-ul-Haq will be central to Pakistan compiling competitive totals although neither is expected to set the event alight.
With no disrespect to the other nations competing, I do not see any prospect of the heaviest run scorer arising from their midst.
So, just who do I think will be crowned the tournament’s leading run-scorer?
I am actually going to opt for Williamson.
He has scored three centuries and a pair of 97s in his past eight ODI innings and four weeks ago made a masterful 242 not out in the Basin Reserve Test match against Sri Lanka.
With the opportunity for the Black Caps to play the bulk of their matches at home I feel he will be the batsman of the tournament.
First published on The Roar – theroar.com.au – on 5 February 2015