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The key player for every team at the 2019 Cricket World Cup

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Roar Guru
5th February, 2019
9

The 2019 ODI World Cup is fast approaching, and every team’s best players are gearing up to perform on the world’s biggest stage.

Each nation has one player whose countries success is dependent on their performance. Here are all the players that mean the most to each country competing in the ultimate 50-over competition.
 
»Cricket World Cup Fixtures

Afghanistan: Rashid Khan
Rashid Khan has dazzled Australian audiences in the Big Bash for the Adelaide Strikers, but his performances for Afghanistan in his 52 One Day matches have been far more influential. 
 
Spin always plays a huge role in the middle overs to restrict the run rate and is worth even more when claiming wickets. 
 
Khan’s fast start has placed him second in the ODI bowler’s rankings, with 48 wickets in 2018, and 118 career wickets at an average of 14, an economy of 3.9 and best bowling of 7 for 18. Khan is going to play a huge part if Afghanistan are going to have their most successful World Cup to date.

Rashid Khan of the Adelaide Strikers

(AAP Image/David Mariuz)


 
Australia: Shaun Marsh
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Shaun Marsh has been Australia’s best white ball cricketer by a long way since the sanctioning of Steve Smith and David Warner (who would become Australia’s biggest player if playing. 
 
In a humiliating ODI series in England, Marsh amassed 288 runs at 58 and was the only Australian player to average more than 40 in that particular series. 
 
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Continuing his form in the recent series against South Africa and India, Marsh has looked the most promising and is a vital player in Australia’s title defence.


 
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Bangladesh: Shakib Al Hasan  
Bangladesh often enter the World Cup with a looming mystery about how well they will perform. A lot of that performance correlates to how well experienced all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan performs.

The 31-year-old is currently ranked as the second best all rounder in all formats. In ODI’s over his career, Shakib has averaged 29 with the ball at an amazing economy of 4.4. With the bat, he averages 35 with a strike rate of 81, along with 40 half centuries to his name.
 
In 2018, Shakib compiled 497 runs at 38 (five half centuries) with the bat and 21 wickets at 26.8 with the ball. Both averages stronger than averages in his career.
 
Shakib’s statistics demonstrate he is no superstar with either the bat or ball, but his consistency and ability to play a large role with both makes him so crucial in the success Bangladesh will have this tournament.
 
England: Jonny Bairstow
England’s last 18 months in the shorter format have been exquisite and their fast starts with the bat have a lot to do with it.
 
Jonny Bairstow and Jason Roy have smashed bowlers to all parts in the power play in majority of their last ODI matches. 
 
In particular, Bairstow. 
 
The opening bat comes into the World Cup in some extremely strong form. A career average of 48 and strike rate of 105, Bairstow has been momentous in England’s pure dominance in recent matches. 
 
In 2018 Bairstow averaged 5.6 boundaries per game and compiled four centuries, including a 92-ball 139 against Australia. The English will head into the World Cup as firm favourites but will need everyone to perform, most importantly Bairstow at the top. 
 
India: Virat Kohli
Unsurprisingly, the Indian captain is the key to the Indian’s World Cup campaign.
 
Kohli’s 2018 in ODI cricket was phenomenal, compiling 1202 runs at an average of 134. The recent series in England saw Virat dominate with the red ball and the white ball, familiarising himself with the host nations’ conditions and attack.
 
The king of the chase played a very lone hand in India’s attempt to dismantle a very strong English side. It may be more important for the players around Kohli to perform, but without Kohli’s dominance India won’t stand a chance.

Virat Kohli runs between the wickets vs Pakistan

(AP Photo/Rui Vieira)


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New Zealand: Martin Guptill
A fast start in ODI cricket is fundamental and in the Kiwi’s last World Cup campaign, Martin Guptill was a major factor in how deep New Zealand went. 
 
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Compiling 547 runs at 68, who could forget his mammoth 237 from 163 balls in the quarter-final against the West indies. 
 
However, recently struggling for some consistency, the dynamic opening bat will need to get his team off to a fast start and let the experience and class of the middle order finish the game for his nation to go one better in 2019.
 
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Pakistan: Fakhar Zaman
Fakhar Zaman is in some astonishing form at the top of the order and it often echoes on the result for Pakistan. 
 
The opening bat’s 2018 was enormous, scoring 875 runs at 67 including two centuries and six half-centuries. 
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Zaman’s career average of 53, strike rate of 96 and high score of 210 will be needed by Pakistan in the most difficult conditions in the world. 
 
The 28-year-old will play a pivotal role at the top of the order and his form with opening partner Imam-Ul-Haq will be reflective on Pakistan’s series.
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South Africa: Dale Steyn
For so long, Steyn’s express bowling has been so crucial for the Proteas and if he can remain on the park, it will be needed one last time in the World Cup.
 
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The 35-year-old has been the South African spearhead for over a decade; the English conditions and the two new white balls will provide him some well needed relief when steaming in for what you would think is his last tournament. 
 
Steyn has claimed 195 ODI wickets at 25 with an outstanding economy of 4.8, while often battling injury concern.
 
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Recently re-joining the South African line-up in 2018, the paceman collected 12 wickets from five matches with an elite average of 11.
 
In the recent ODI World Cup, Steyn was on the receiving end of some Graham Elliot brilliance to deprive him an opportunity to perform in the World Cup final. If he can remain fit, this tournament will no doubt be one of redemption for the experienced quick.

South Africa's cricketer Dale Steyn. AFP PHOTO / ALEXANDER JOE

(AFP PHOTO / ALEXANDER JOE)


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Sri Lanka: Akila Dananjaya
Sri Lanka has not been in supreme form recently and is looming to be the earlier finisher in this year’s World Cup. 
 
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In 2018, not a single century was scored by a Sri Lankan in ODI cricket, meaning if they are going to make it past the group stage, their biggest strength has to be with the ball. 
 
Akila Dananjaya has easily been Sri Lanka’s most consistent bowler. The right arm off-spinner compiled 28 wickets in 2018 at 23, bowling over 40 overs more than any other Sri Lankan. 
 
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Dananjaya has a career strike rate of 31 and best bowling of 6 for 29.
 
West Indies: Shai Hope
The Windies will enter the World Cup without a massively strong batting line-up and the onus will fall on wicketkeeper batsmen, Shai Hope. 
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Currently ranked eighth in the ODI batting rankings, Hope will have to have a big tournament if his nation is to move on from the group stage. In his 43 matches, the 25-year-old has averaged a compact 46 with a strike rate of 72. 
 
But most impressively, in 2018, Hope amassed 875 ODI runs at 67.31, an average 27 better than the next best West Indian. 
 
The West Indies are currently ranked as the second worst team to be participating in the World Cup but can surprise a few nations if Hope can continue his recent form. 

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