The ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 is around two weeks away and the excitement is building among the fans across the globe with each passing day.
The 2019 World Cup will be a mega platform to showcase talent and building consistency in ranks. Batting in particular is an important phase of the game and the openers in particular will be counted upon.
Over the decades, teams that have won the Cricket World Cup, have been blessed by their openers in particular. They face the new ball and often set the tone of the innings.
They also get to face the maximum deliveries and provide a base for the side to build upon. A strong start is desirable and it’s something sides will be looking to build upon.
The 2019 World Cup promises to set the fireworks from the openers, as each team is blessed with desirable names in their ranks. Here we rate the opening combinations of each team participating in the CWC 19 based on what they will offer and the efforts the players have put in recent past.
India have quality in opening department
India’s two main options in the opening lies with pioneers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan. They have been the source of inspiration for many years now. The two understand their games well and there is a basic sort of comfort all around. Both Rohit and Dhawan have a staggering 4,586 partnership runs between them.
They have hit 15 hundreds and 13 fifties together at an average just under 45. There’s quality on offer here. Both have the strength in playing the role as attackers and also as anchormen.
Rohit and Shikhar are the go to openers and their understanding and maturity is what India will look up to. Both have the authority to command the situation. Both the players had a successful year in ODIs in 2018. Providing depth is the in-form KL Rahul.
The Karnataka batsman hasn’t played much ODIs though (14), but this is the right time to invest in him as he is the in-form batsman. India get a 9/10 rating. That’s simply because of the numbers and quality they bring on the table.
Australia can rotate when required
The Aussies have been remarkably boosted with the return of David Warner. The defending champions have a selection headache in terms of opening combination.
Usman Khawaja and skipper Aaron Finch have been solid together after scoring the runs against Pakistan in the 5-0 series whitewash earlier this year.
Warner, who made a return after 12 months, bagged the Orange Cap in the 12th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL). His return means that the Aussies will have to change the dynamics a bit.
What we feel strongly is that all three of Finch, Khawaja and Warner will feature in the starting line-up and perhaps the skipper will drop down to accommodate Warner.
Warner and Finch have also enjoyed a solid run in the past and scored 2,126 partnership runs with five hundred under their belt. Australia get 9/10 rating, They have three in-form batsmen and can be rotated at ease.
England can provide the sparks
The English team will be relying on openers Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow to provide the ultimate joy atop and are both aggressive with their intent.
They deserve a special mention for being the best in business going into the World Cup. They had a terrific 2018 and amassed 1,025 and 894 runs respectively. The aggression provided by the two players makes England dominate the show from the word go.
All will depend on Roy and Bairstow’s fine understanding. The two players have thrived at home and they know the conditions in and out. They can unsettle bowlers at ease. That’s where the strength lies.
With Alex Hales being sacked, England may look upto James Vince as the third opener likely. The absence of Hales will bother England and Vince has big shoes to fill in. England get 8/10 rating.
South Africa need to be consistent
SA need a to find answers. They have the quality in the form of Quinton de Kock.
The southpaw is currently enjoying a strong form with the bat. He was on top gear against Sri Lanka in the ODIs this year. De Kock churned out his most productive ODI bilateral series ever. He slammed one century and three fifties in five innings.
De Kock will be one assured opener and it remains to be seen whom South Africa choose to partner him with at the top.
Hashim Amla has been an accomplished senior player for South Africa in ODIs. He has scored 7,910 runs in ODIs at an average of just under 50. However, the classy batsman has struggled for form lately.
Aiden Markram is the third name in the list. He has played 18 ODIs for the Proteas and has a poor average of 29.58. He is yet to hit a ton. SA need to be consistent and identify the right combination. They get a 7/10 rating.
Windies will rely on Gayle power
Chris Gayle and Evin Lewis are the obvious choices for the opening role for WI. The veteran Gayle is the key man once again at the top of the order.
The 39-year-old peaked during the 2-2 ODI series against England this year. He was breathtaking and gave a glimpse of what’s to come after averaging 106 across the five games.
Gayle is West Indies’ most experienced player with 289 ODI caps to his name. Going with an in-form Gayle means a lot for West Indies.
Lewis needs to show his prowess after being entrusted for the role. They have Nicholas Pooran as back-up. Both these players have the promise, but can they be the ideal partners for Gayle? WI get a rating of 6/10 for being over reliable on Gayle.
Pakistan can turn on the heat
Imam-ul-Haq is Pakistan’s main asset in the opening department. The southpaw will need to be consistent. He has been a consistent force for the side.
His principle role will be to play as an anchor and bind the side. Joining him upfront is the explosive Fakhar Zaman. He can be inconsistent at times, but he presents an aggressive nature and could bolster the side in getting those brisk starts at the beginning.
Recently, he slammed a ton against England in the ongoing ODIs. He will need to handle the responsibility well.
The Asian team has the back-up in Abid Ali, who doesn’t have experience under his belt. But he has the temperament as seen against Australia in his debut match. Mohammad Hafeez can open as well if required. Pakistan have variety on offer and get 7/10 rating.
New Zealand have to change things around
For NZ, Colin Munro and Martin Guptill are the household names. They will be the main openers and both provide the base of getting off to brisk starts. They can take the game away in a flash and that can set the tempo for the Kiwis. Although, both these players can be guilty of being inconsistent at times.
Guptill, who scored 423 runs in ODIs last year, was wayward against India at the start of 2019. He got back to form against Bangladesh and scripted two successive centuries. He has the desired quality to come strong. Munro will need to play smart cricket and make his presence count.
Wicket-keeper batsman Tom Blundell is be the back-up, but is yet to play an ODI. With inconsistency and an inexperienced name as back-up, NZ get a rating of 5/10.
Bangladesh have worries to deal with
The opening pair has been an area of concern for Bangladesh. Besides Tamim Iqbal, the person to accompany him upfront has lacked the cutting edge. Both Soumya Sarkar and Liton Das have been in and out.
Both batsmen have intermittently held the role, but neither has shown the quality to say, I earn this spot. It remains to be seen who gets the nod to join Tamim up the order. Bangladesh may be tempted to start with Das, who barring 121 against India in the Asia Cup 2018 final, hasn’t produced much substance.
If he fails, then the Tigers will promote Soumya up the order to bat alongside Tamim. They get a rating of 4/10.
Afghanistan have promise on offer
Afghanistan have a promising opening combination. In Mohammad Shahzad, they already have an opener, who has the desired knowledge and experience. His boundary-hitting abilities could be the way for the side to go out and attack. The 31-year-old has scored 2,562 runs from 79 ODIs that includes five hundreds and 13 fifties.
He will be well supported by Hazratullah Zazai. If they decide to pair Zazai and Shahzad, there could be fireworks. The two can take bowlers to the cleaners in matter of no time.
They also have Noor Ali Zadran, who can be an able customer against the new ball. He has 47 ODIs under his belt. Facing top quality attacks can be immensely testing for them. Afghanistan get 6/10 for their promise.
Sri Lanka can struggle in CWC 19
Skipper Dimuth Karunaratne is a notable Test player and he has played just 17 ODIs up till now. So this will be a big test for the player to come in and mold himself to the demands of 50-over cricket. He will not get the time to settle in as this is the World Cup and teams will be coming hard at each other.
21-year-old opening batsman Avishka Fernando keeps his place. He is likely to be the back-up. He has played just 5 ODIs and scored 71 runs. He was recently seen against South Africa. Thirimanne last played an ODI in 2017. He is most likely to open the batting. The left-handed batsman has the desired experience.
With not such big names and gaps in their careers, Lanka get a rating of 3/10.