England star Joe Root named teammates Jonny Bairstow and Adil Rashid as his pick for the leading run-scorer and wicket-taker, respectively, in the upcoming ICC ODI World Cup in India.
England emerged victorious in a thrilling Super Over finish against New Zealand in the grand finale of the 2019 edition. They will look to become only the third team after the West Indies and Australia to defend their title.
Root was impressive in the 2019 edition, finishing as the fifth leading run-scorer with 556 runs in 11 games at an average of 61.77 and a strike rate of almost 90. His teammate Bairstow was just one spot lower, scoring 532 runs in as many games with a 92.84 strike rate.
Speaking to the ICC, Joe Root felt Bairstow always plays with a bit between his teeth at the top of the order, making him a dangerous proposition.
"I am going to go for Jonny Bairstow (to be the leading run-scorer). He is someone that always has a point to prove, he is a wonderful white-ball player and he has been so consistent for us at the top of the order," Root said.
Jonny Bairstow struggled in the recent series against New Zealand, scoring only 19 runs in three games. Yet, Bairstow boasts a stellar ODI record, with over 3,600 runs at an average of 45.09 and a magnificent 103.92 strike rate.
Root also felt leg-spinner Adil Rashid should prosper on Indian conditions and picked him as the leading wicket-taker of the World Cup.
"He (Rashid) has so many different skills and variations to call upon. We know how important it is to take wickets in the middle overs...he has done a wonderful job for us for a long time and I anticipate him being very difficult on these wickets," Root added.
Rashid has been an unsung hero for England, helping them win the 2019 ODI World Cup and the T20 World Cup last year. He has picked up 184 ODI wickets in 126 games, including 11 scalps at the 2019 World Cup at home.
"You have to get to those last two games" - Joe Root
Joe Root believed that the primary target for the World Cup would be to qualify for the semi-finals and produce match-winning performances on the day.
Following years of disappointment at the World Cup stage, England turned it around in the 2019 edition with their attacking brand of cricket, crushing Australia in the semi-final and New Zealand in a thrilling finale.
"You have to get to those last two games - the semi-final and the final - and it is about turning up and putting in the performance when it really counts. Big tournaments and big moments is where you want to go out and perform and impress and deliver for your country. It is very exciting to play in a World Cup event is something that you always look forward to as a player," Joe Root stated.
The 32-year-old felt that the experience of winning the previous World Cup could hold England in good stead as they look to defend their title.
"Having the experience of 2019 and how good that was and how much that meant to the group and for them to go out and get the opportunity to defend it is something we are relishing and really looking forward to. We are going to have to play some really good cricket, we are going to have to adapt to different conditions and have that consistency that you need so we will see how we go," he concluded.
Joe Root had a dismal series against New Zealand, scoring a mere 39 runs at an average of less than 10 and a strike rate of 60.93.
Having played only 19 ODI games for England over the last four years, the champion batter will play the Ireland ODIs to rediscover his best form for the showpiece event.
England will take on New Zealand in a mouthwatering rematch of the 2019 final in the 2023 World Cup opener at Ahmedabad on October 5.