World Cup Special Report
England are hot favourites to retain the Cricket World Cup in 2023. India, Pakistan and Australia are capable of dislodging them. Who will win? November 19 will provide the answer. Image Credit: Gulf News

Dubai: In the shorter formats, a good start from the openers is invaluable to the grand scheme of things. The match, on many an occasion, is almost won when the openers make the maximum use of the powerplay overs, which could swing the pendullum in their favour. An added advantage is that, after getting their eye in with the new ball, the more they continue to play the better for the team. While the bowlers will be new and need time to settle to bowl a good line and length, the set batter has the advantage of knowing the pace and the nature of the wicket. Even when the ball is old, he will be able to score freely as opposed to a new batter, who will require more time to settle down. To sustain in the 50-over version, the opener needs to be technically sound, to be able manoeuvre the ball during the middle overs.

With such huge responsibilities on their shoulders, Gulf News looks at five openers, who could make a difference to their respective teams in this 50-over World Cup, which begins in Ahmedabad on Thursday.

Shubman Gill, India (ranked No 2)

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The Indian opener is a class act, one of the few in the world today to play all the three formats. Gill is a completely transformed player in the last one and half years and the brief experimentation by sending him to No 3 did not yield the desired results against the West Indies. The 24-year-old is back at his regular slot as an opener and will be a perfect foil for skipper Rohit Sharma. In the last World Cup, Rohit Sharma hit four centuries, one may even bet on Gill to replicate that kind of form in this World Cup.

Jos Buttler, England (ranked 17)

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The touch artist makes batting look so easy. When he bats, one gets the feeling that his bat is the magnet and the ball just gets attracted to it and finds the middle only to race to the boundary. It shows the perfection in his technique. Modern day batting is all about bludgeoning the ball as far as possible. The England captain effortlessly hits the ball several metres over the fence with his sublime timing. His role is vital for England’s defence, and after what he did to the Indian team in the semi-finals of the Twenty20 World Cup in Australia last year, one can be sure that he will repeat that act several times in India, where he has scored runs in tons while playing in the Indian Premier League.

David Warner, Australia (Ranked No 4)

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The Australian left-hander might not be of the classic variety, but he is ruthless when he has the willow in hands. Like most of the modern day batters, he doesn’t put a price on his wicket and tries some audacious shots — stepping out to a fast bowler or playing a reverse flick to a genuine pacer — to get them off their line and length. He is good at playing the mind games with the bowlers and the rivals. He is a smiling assassin to say the least. After hitting a boundary, he will send a smile towards the bowler and should the bowler come back and beat him the next ball with a beauty, the reaction will be the same, leaving the bowler perplexed. Going by the announcement, this edition of the 50-over World Cup will be the last for the 36-year-old Warner. He will be eager to make it count.

Devon Conway, New Zealand (Ranked 53)

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The unassuming New Zealander showcased his prowess in the Indian Premier League for Chennai Super Kings. He is technically compact and knows the areas to score his runs with ease. The return of astute skipper Kane Williamson back at the helm will be a blessing as the left-hander will be utilised to his best, just the way Chennai skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni handled him over the last couple of years. Conway has spent his initial years in South Africa, which gives him the edge to adapt to the pace and bounce while he is good at using the feet to the spinners and hitting them over the straight field, a suggestion from Dhoni that has paid rich dividends to the 32-year-old’s game in the shorter formats. This is a perfect stage for Conway to announce his arrival on the world stage.

Quinton de Kock, South Africa (Ranked 7)

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The South African opener is playing in his last World Cup and will be eager to end the Proteas barren run in the showpiece. De Kock might lack the natural left-hander’s grace, but he is very effective in his approach. He overcomes his technical flaws with a sharp game plan and his skipper Temba Bavuma must be hoping that 30-year-old will be firing on all cylinders to give a good start to South Africa. The Proteas has a potent bowling attack and should de Kock, who is familiar with the conditions with his numerous years’ in the IPL, get into his groove and maintain his consistent scoring run, then South Africans can fancy their chances of making the last four grade.