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Cricket World Cup 2023: 5 Emerging Players To Watch Out For

The Cricket World Cup, which starts in India on October 5, will bring together the cream of the white ball world. The crowds will hurry to watch established stars like Ben Stokes, Virat Kohli and Trent Boult but they will also be on the lookout for the new generation of players to emerge from the tournament. AFP picks out five who will be vying to make a name for themselves.

Noor Ahmad (Afghanistan)

It is always exciting when someone a little bit different comes along and 18-year-old Noor is certainly that, a left-arm wrist spinner with a high action and good control as well as decent pace. He made his Under-19 debut for Afghanistan when he was just 14 and was only 17 when he made his full ODI debut against Sri Lanka last year and then took 4-10 against Zimbabwe in his only T20I thus far. Noor starred for Gujarat in the IPL and is in demand from numerous franchises around the world – in India he will offer important back-up to his idol and influence Rashid Khan.

Expert view from Afghanistan spinner Rashid Khan: “That little kid, he just wants to learn. He has got the opportunity now and I am so, so happy he has been delivering. It’s great news for Afghanistan cricket.”

Matheesha Pathirana (Sri Lanka)

Since the retirement of the great Lasith Malinga after the 2019 World Cup, Sri Lanka have been looking for a shock bowler who can take wickets and tie up the batsmen at the close of the innings. In Pathirana they appear to have found the most like-for-like replacement possible. Also a slinger, with an even lower arm action than his model Malinga, the 20-year-old speedster with a penchant for yorkers, stepped into the fast lane when MS Dhoni pulled him into the Chennai IPL squad late in 2022 as a replacement for Adam Milne. With a perfect sense of theatre, he took the wicket of Shubman Gill with his first ball. He only made his ODI debut against Afghanistan in June but if Sri Lanka lift the trophy for the second time it will surely be part due to ‘Baby Malinga’.

Expert view from Sri Lanka coach Chris Silverwood: “He absorbs information very quickly, and he’s very quickly able to apply that to his game. He does it his way.”

Gus Atkinson (England)

When England won the 2019 World Cup, they swore by pace. In Jofra Archer and Mark Wood they had two quicks who could go beyond the 90mph mark on a consistent basis. Wood is back again but with Archer still recovering from a long-term elbow injury — he will be in India an official reserve — the mantle has been handed to Atkinson. The 25-year-old paceman broke through this year with some fine early season performances that earned him an England call-up for the ODI series against New Zealand in September. He only took one wicket in three matches but it is the promise of a 95mph bowler that is exciting the English.

Expert view from former England captain Alastair Cook: “He doesn’t look like he uses that much effort to get the ball down at a decent lick. It looks like there is a bit more untapped pace.”

Teja Nidamanuru (Netherlands)

If it is the dream of every Indian cricketer to play in a World Cup, not many of them would expect to do it for the Netherlands. Such is the case for 29-year-old Nidamanuru who was born in Vijayawada in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh but brought up in New Zealand — before hitching his wagon to the Dutch. Nidamanuru qualified for them in May 2022 and struck an impressive half-century on debut against West Indies. But it was his 76-ball 111 against the two-time World Cup winners in Zimbabwe in June as the Dutch tied the 375 target, that marked him out as one to watch. The West Indies, who lost the game in the Super Over, missed out on the World Cup for the first time with the Dutch taking their place at the top table.

What he says: “It’s surreal to even just be sitting here and talking of playing in a World Cup. The road to it has been hard but it feels worth it.”

Towhid Hridoy (Bangladesh)

From his days in the Under-19s, Hridoy was picked out as a 50-over gem and this may be the moment for the wristy middle-order dasher to take Bangladesh to their first ever World Cup final. Now 22, Hridoy began to enjoy T20 franchise success before being brought into the national side for the T20 series against England in March, guickly followed by the ODI series against Ireland. He has now chalked up five 50s in his 17 ODIs and, perhaps using a bat given to him by his mentor Mushfiqur Rahim, there may be more to come in India.

Expert view from Bangladesh assistant coach Nic Pothas: “He has a high ceiling in terms of his skills. He has a lot of potential and a desire to learn. I am excited for what he can do.”

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