The performance of batsmen on what are arguably batting-friendly surfaces in the South Asian nation will be a focal point during the competition as the Cricket World Cup 2023 gets underway in India later this week.
Here, we examine five of the game’s best batsmen to keep an eye out for.
Ben Stokes (England)
The legendary all-rounder returned to ODI play in August, and since then, his 182 runs against New Zealand last month, which ranked as England’s highest individual total in the format, have served as a message to his championship rivals.
Stokes, the driving force behind England’s first World Cup victory in 2019 and a key player in the T20 World Cup championship run the previous year, has played exclusively as a specialist batter since his comeback.
Stokes’ 40.50 ODI average is his highest across all three forms, and his 96+ strike rate makes him a potent middle-order weapon.
Shubman Gill (India)
With 1,230 runs in 20 games this year, Gill has been in fantastic form and has risen to a career-high world number two in the ODI rankings.
The 24-year-old was the top scorer at the most recent Asia Cup, which India won to claim their eighth championship, and his connection with skipper Rohit Sharma will once again be essential if the World Cup hosts are to duplicate their 2011 triumph by winning the tournament at home.
Gill is one of a select group of batters who have scored a century in every format of international competition, including a double century against New Zealand earlier this year in an ODI.
Babar Azam (Pakistan)
The top-ranked ODI batsman remains a critical pillar in Pakistan’s top order despite a lackluster Asia Cup performance as they attempt to recover from recent setbacks.
Pakistan’s World Cup campaign may be hampered by the injury to fast bowler Naseem Shah, but Babar’s prowess at the plate ensures they are still a formidable team and can still put up big totals.
Although he lacks natural power, the smooth right-hander averages 58.16 in ODIs and can score at will.
Steve Smith (Australia)
Even though he was still healing from a wrist injury incurred during the Ashes, the 34-year-old was selected for the World Cup team. As Australia ended a five-match losing streak, he hit 74 in the third ODI against India after hitting 41 and going for a golden duck in the previous two matches of their comeback against India.
A return to form for Smith would be essential to Australia’s aspirations of contending for a sixth championship, especially in light of the injury to tournament opener Travis Head.
Kane Williamson (New Zealand)
The 33-year-old Black Caps captain, who tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) during the Indian Premier League in March, made his comeback in this week’s World Cup warm-up games against Pakistan.
As he continues his recuperation, he won’t play in the first game against England on October 5.
Williamson will play in his fourth World Cup after being voted player of the competition in 2019 following New Zealand’s heartbreaking loss to England in the championship match. His return to the crease will be a significant boost because he has scored more than 6,500 runs in the format.