England and New Zealand are set to square off today in the opening match of the ICC World Cup 2023 at the Narendra Modi Stadium, a venue that has an incredible 132,000 seating capacity. The two sides played out a thrilling final in the previous World Cup, with the Three Lions ultimately coming on top in the super over.
Both teams will want to claim a big victory early on to build their momentum. England are the team in form and boast plenty of firepower but they could be missing star all-rounder Ben Stokes as his availability is doubtful in this match.
Meanwhile, New Zealand will be missing their skipper Kane Williamson on Thursday. But with Devon Conway, Will Young and Daryl Mitchell in the team, the Black Caps don’t look deficient at all.
Ahead of the ICC World Cup 2023 opener, let’s look at some of the top players to watch for at the marquee event in India.
1- Babar Azam
Captain Babar Azam is the most prolific run scorer for the Pakistan team. He is currently at the top of the ICC ODI batting rankings ahead of India’s Shubman Gill and South Africa’s Rassie van der Dussen.
The 28-year-old had a mixed run at the recently-concluded Asia Cup, registering just 207 runs in four innings. But if the Green Shirts are to qualify for the semifinal of the ICC World Cup 2023, Babar’s form will be crucial for them.
2- Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli is undoubtedly one of India’s greatest cricketers of all time. He is hailed for his technique, dynamic playing style and mental strength.
Kohli has now reached the age of 34 but he is still among the fittest athletes in the sport. He has already struck three centuries this year and is now eyeing another World Cup title for his country.
3- Ben Stokes
Ben Stokes played a vital role for England’s success at the 2019 World Cup. The 32-year-old announced his retirement from ODIs last year but then reversed his decision to be available for the marquee event in India.
Stokes’ 184-runs innings in the recent ODI series against New Zealand showed he is in top form. The all-rounder’s availability is doubtful for the opening match, but he is expected to play a big role for England in the showpiece event.
4- Adam Zampa
Australia have a lethal pace attack but the same thing cannot be said about their spin bowling options, with Adam Zampa their only specialist leg-spinner in the squad. The 31-year-old will be crucial for the Aussies as they will be playing on traditionally spin-friendly Indian pitches.
Zampa doesn’t concede many runs and also boasts a healthy strike rate. He could provide crucial breakthroughs for his side.
5- Shaheen Shah Afridi
Pakistan suffered a big blow when Naseem Shah picked up a major shoulder injury last month to rule himself out of the ICC World Cup 2023. Now they will be banking on Shaheen Shah Afridi, who is widely regarded as one of the best bowlers in the world.
Since making his debut as an 18-year-old in 2018, Afridi has been a key part of Pakistan’s bowling attack. His impressive displays have earned him a place at the top of the ICC bowlers’ rankings.
Don’t miss a moment of the action! Check out our cricket live streams page to follow the 2023 ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup.
- Pro Picks: Analyzing and Applying NBA Tips from the Ladbrokes Blog
- Tottenham predicted line-up vs Aston Villa, Bentancur and Udogie to start
- Preview: Tottenham Hotspur vs Aston Villa – Prediction, Team News, Line-ups
- Preview: Burnley vs West Ham United – Prediction, Team News, Line-ups
- Preview: Everton vs Manchester United – Prediction, Team News, Line-ups
- Preview: Newcastle United vs Chelsea – Prediction, Team News, Line-ups
- Preview: Manchester City vs Liverpool – Prediction, Team News, Line-ups
- Chelsea’s next five matches after the international break
- Chelsea injury news: Nkunku, Lavia and James latest update ahead of Newcastle clash
- ICC World Cup 2023: Australia beat India to lift record 6th title