When it comes to ICC tournaments, there are only a handful of players who can have as much as an impact as Shikhar Dhawan.
No player has scored more runs in the last three ICC tournaments than Dhawan, who managed to garner 1113 runs across 18 innings.
The fact that two of those were held in England – the venue of the 2019 World Cup – makes a case for why the left-handed batsman can wreak havoc yet again.
Dhawan confirmed that he’s confident of yet another successful ICC tournament and the passion is unchanged from the last time he took to the crease.
“People tell me about my record in ICC events, but frankly speaking, the intent has always been the same. It’s not that the effort is less than 100 per cent ever,” Dhawan told Press Trust of India. “The focus as always is on the process. I am confident that I will have another good ICC tournament.
“Mera jazbaa aaj bhi utni hi hai [My passion is still the same as it was when I started]. I have shut out negativity, primarily because I am a happy-go-lucky person.
“Before I made my Test debut, I had played nearly nine years of first-class cricket. Had I not been passionate and hungry, I couldn’t have performed for India after nine years of domestic cricket. Now I have played six years of international cricket. It has been a great journey.”
The selection of the 33-year-old Karthik in the 15-member squad was sharply criticised by some former cricketers who felt the 21-year-old Pant should have been given a chance.
Since making his debut in 2018, Pant has impressed with his batting, including a maiden Test century in England.
He scored 488 runs from 16 matches in the just-finished Indian Premier League, while Karthik made 253 runs from 14 games.
Both players are vying for the reserve wicketkeeper slot behind former skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
“In pressure situations, he (Karthik) has shown composure. It was something that everybody on board was convinced about. He has the experience,” Kohli told the Times of India newspaper.
“If, god forbid, something happens to MS (Dhoni), Karthik can be immensely valuable behind the wickets. As a finisher, he’s done well.
“So, it was the overall exposure to a tournament of this magnitude that was taken into primary consideration,” said Kohli.
After making his debut in 2004, Karthik has played 91 one-day internationals while Pant has five to his name.
Kohli, who will be leading India for the first time at the World Cup, said he was not bothered about the constant attention he gets as a batsman and captain.
“I don’t want to be the centre of everything. Nobody wants that. But when your intent is to make the team win, eventually you end up doing things which are always going to be seen,” said Kohli, the world’s number one Test and one-day player.
“I would always put my body on the line for the team.”
India are chasing their third World Cup after wins in 1983 and 2011.
The top 10 teams in ODI cricket will be tussling for the glittering trophy with the biggest superstars of the game set to strut their stuff over the course of the six-week long tournament.
Ahead of what is the 12th edition of the World Cup, we take a look at the five players to watch out for in England.
JOS BUTTLER – ENGLAND
It has been a dream year or so for Jos Buttler in international cricket with the 28-year-old putting in some tour de force displays across all three formats of the game.
While Buttler’s incredible hitting power was already known when he initially broke onto the international scene in 2012, it is only over the past 12 months or so that he has really taken his game to the next level.
The right-hander’s consistency has been touching incredible levels of late with an ODI batting average of 107 in 2019.
Audacious, inventive and effortless are some of the adjectives which can be used to describe Buttler’s batting style and it is no surprise that he has now registered the two quickest ODI tons by an Englishman.
That he manages to stand out in an England side littered with big hitters is a feat in itself.
DAVID WARNER – AUSTRALIA
He might get a frosty reception wherever he goes during the World Cup but David Warner arrives at the tournament like a man possessed to bury the ghosts of a tumultuous 12 months.
Having served his one-year suspension from international cricket for his role in the infamous ball-tampering saga that occurred at Cape Town, Warner has returned to the game with a vengeance as seen by his IPL displays for Sunrisers Hyderabad.
692 runs at an average of over 69 and a strike-rate of nearly 144 flowed from Warner’s bat in the IPL with the southpaw batting like he had never been away.
There are few openers in international cricket who can take away the game from the opposition in the blink of an eye and Warner has done it umpteen times over the course of his career.
He will understandably face plenty of stick from England fans but expect Warner to dish out equal punishment through the blade of his bat.
CHRIS GAYLE – WEST INDIES
The 2019 World Cup will bring down the curtain on the international career of one of the greatest limited-overs players of all time, with Chris Gayle set for one last hurrah.
The veteran Windies opener is showing no sign of slowing down despite nearing 40 and looks to be in the mood to bow out in style. In 2019 alone, Gayle has registered two centuries and as many fifties in just four innings (all against England) with his average touching 106.
That he is coming off the back of an excellent individual IPL campaign that saw him score nearly 500 runs at a strike-rate of more than 153 should also strike plenty of fear into the opposition bowlers.
The added responsibility of being given the vice-captaincy for the World Cup will only give more incentive to the Jamaican to make a big statement before he bows out of the international game.
FAKHAR ZAMAN – PAKISTAN
Returning to the scene of his stellar breakthrough display in the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy is Pakistan opener Fakhar Zaman.
Since that superb match-winning ton against India in the final of the Champions Trophy, Fakhar has only being going from strength to strength with a terrific 2018 which saw him become the first Pakistan batsman to register an ODI double hundred.
Like Warner and Gayle, the Pakistan left-hander is as marauding an opener as they come in international cricket and is difficult to contain once he gets into gear.
After a brief lean period in international cricket, Fakhar looks back to his very best as shown by his recent ton against England where he nearly pulled off a record run-chase for Pakistan at Southampton.
VIRAT KOHLI – INDIA
Virat Kohli’s ODI credentials need no introduction with the India skipper arguably already establishing himself as a legend in the format.
The No1 ranked ODI batsman in the world is a ton-making machine who is perhaps at the peak of his powers currently. Fifteen of Kohli’s 41 ODI tons so far have come since the turn of 2017, with the right-hander on course to overhaul Sachin Tendulkar’s tally (49) in the next 12 months or so at his current rate.
While there is no doubt that Kohli will break all records there are to break in the 50-over game by the time he retires, leading India to their third World Cup title might very well end the debate surrounding his ODI GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) credentials.
Over 11,000 ODI runs and counting at a stellar average of nearly 60 is what Kohli brings to the table for India and he will be determined to put on a show in England after a relatively disappointing individual 2015 World Cup campaign.