The International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cup 2023 is set to begin in less than 10 days' time and the top 10 teams will battle it out to secure the ultimate prize.
Just like in every big competition, some apparent names are always in the hunt to set the stage on fire. We are bringing you a list of five such players who definitely have what it takes to deliver at the highest level.
First in the list features Pakistan's star batter and captain Babar Azam. The right-hander is currently the number one-ranked player in the ODI rankings and is arguably the best batter across formats. Babar will be playing for the first time in India in ODIs and therefore, it will be interesting to see how he will deliver at the biggest stage of all and in conditions which will be somewhat alien to him. The Lahore-born has played 108 ODIs for Pakistan where he has scored 5409 runs at an outstanding average of 58.16 with a strike-rate of 89.12, which included 19 centuries and 28 half-centuries.
Afghanistan's Rashid Khan is probably the best leg-spinner currently playing in the white-ball cricket. The 25-year-old has an impressive record in the 50-over format where he has already claimed 172 wickets in just 94 matches with an outstanding economy-rate of just 4.21. Those numbers show why Rashid will be a great pick for any fantasy team. The Nangarhar has an impressive record while playing in India as well where he has 23 wickets to his name in just 13 innings.
Third on the list features England's Ben Stokes. The 32-year-old was the star of the World Cup-winning side four years ago and was named the player of the match in the final for playing an outstanding knock of 84 not out. Interestingly, Stokes has not played much ODI cricket after that and announced retirement from the format back in 2022. He has recently taken that decision back and made himself available for selection in the 50-over format and therefore, it will be interesting to see how well he will perform in the upcoming mega-event.
India's Hardik Pandya is another high-profile name on the list. The 29-year-old is one of the most highly-rated all-rounder in the world of cricket and has the ability to change the game in the space of a few overs. Having someone like Pandya in a fantasy team would be nothing short of a dream for anyone as he is someone who can play a match-winning innings and also has the ability to bowl a match-winning spell. The Gurjat Titans star all-rounder has represented the Men-in-Blue in 82 ODIs where he has scored 1,758 runs and also has 79 wickets to his name.
Last on the list features India's Virat Kohli. The right-hander is the highest run-getter in ODIs amongst the batters currently playing the game. He is also the only active player in the world to have scored more than 11,000 runs in the 50-over format. With all the records under his belt, having someone like Kohli in your fantasy team, especially when he is playing on his home grounds, is not a bad call at all. The Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) star batter has represented the Men-in-Blue in 280 matches in the 50-over format where he has scored 13,027 runs at an outstanding average of 57.38 and strike-rate of 93.79, which included 47 centuries and 65 half-centuries.