Alyssa Healy, Smriti Mandhana and other batters to watch out for in World Cup 2022

Alyssa Healy, Heather Knight, Amelia Kerr, Smriti Mandhana and Meg Lanning © Getty Images

With more meaty willows, shorter boundaries and fielding restrictions, the game looks a bit lopsided in the favour of batters. 

Whether the game is tilted in favour of batters or bowlers is a matter of varied standpoints, but the thing that is beyond a point of debate is that they (batters) are pure entertainers and a treat to watch when they are in full flow.

The ongoing World Cup has plenty of world-class batters but there are five, in particular, who will be the ones to watch out for:

Alyssa Healy

Matches: 86

Runs: 2158

Average: 33.71

Highest: 133

Strike rate: 99.08

Every game at regular intervals requires a catalyst. A catalyst who could accelerate the change required for the game to flourish while keeping the element of ‘awe’ intact to draw more eyeballs. Australia’s Alyssa Healy is that catalyst. ‘Flamboyance’ is what describes Healy the best and the ability that she possesses to pound the opposition is rare.

It is not that the game is deprived of power-hitters, the batters who can tonk the ball a fair distance. But if that is the case, then what exactly sets Healy apart?

Well, after a flurry of wickets, when the going gets tough, and the opposition skipper brings extra fielders inside the 30-yard circle and bowlers have their tails up, most of those power-hitters resort to grafting but not Healy. She trusts her ability and fights fire with fire. And it is her immense faith in her skillset that makes her one of the five batters to watch out for in the ongoing World Cup.

Meg Lanning

Matches: 92

Runs: 4155

Average: 53.26

Highest: 152*

Strike rate: 92.10

Arguably the best batter in the world at the moment, Meg Lanning had to make this list. Not many batters going around in the world at the moment possess the ability to be the enforcer and also the grafter when the situation demands. But Lanning is one of those very few who can do both and that too without breaking a sweat. Her ability to shift gears and that too in the blink of an eye is something that makes her a cut above the rest.

Being the skipper of Australia, her batting resonates a tremendous amount of confidence as she leads from the front and shows how it’s done to the rest. She looked in complete control throughout the course of her 86-run knock against arch-rivals England in Australia’s opening clash of the ongoing World Cup. And it should not come as a surprise if she adds a few more centuries to her tally of 14 – a chart that she is comfortably leading already.

Heather Knight

Matches: 116

Runs:3290

Average: 37.38

Highest: 106

Strike rate: 71.88

When the pressure starts mounting and it gets to a point where it becomes unrelenting, most of the batters throw in the towel. But then there are some like Heather Knight, who relish it and use it to their advantage as they thrive on it.

The fulcrum of the English batting order, skipper Heather Knight holds the batting line-up together and weathers the storm. With two half-centuries and a century in the 2017 World Cup, she led from the front with the bat and helped her side secure their fourth title. And the 31-year old will again be expected to rack up the runs and play a monumental role if England are to defend their title. A

Amelia Kerr

Matches: 47

Runs: 1052

Average: 38.96

Highest: 232*

Strike rate: 91.16

The youngest on the list, Amelia Kerr finds a place here by the sheer weight of her magnificent recent outings. She was phenomenal throughout the entirety of the recently culminated five-match ODI series against India. Barring the first ODI, she made the Indian bowlers toil in all the other four games as she struck three half-centuries and an unbeaten ton.

There has been a remarkable turnaround in her batting ability as she now looks a much-improved player against spin and can also handle the pace bowlers with ease. The reason behind this drastic change has been the addition of shots in her arsenal which gives her a wide array of options to choose from against different bowlers. Although she missed out against the West Indies in the tournament opener, don’t be surprised if she goes all hammer and tongs the next time she steps on the field.

Smriti Mandhana

Matches: 65

Runs: 2513

Average: 41.88

Highest: 135

Strike rate: 84.35

Smriti Mandhana has been one of the most prolific run-getters for India in the recent past. She was recently awarded the ICC Women’s Cricketer of the Year 2021, an award that not only defines her appetite to score runs across all formats but also her growing stature as a batter.

She doesn’t let the opposition bowlers take control during her stay in the middle and keeps on taking calculated risks to keep the scoreboard ticking and that too at a healthy rate. By virtue of her amazing strokeplay, she lets the other batter, who is batting along with her in the middle to buy time and settle herself.

Whether it is smacking the short ball to the boundary on the on-side or slicing a cut shot to perfection on the off, Smriti plays the short ball exceedingly well – a must in the New Zealand conditions. With a fifty against Pakistan in the first game, Mandhana looked steady and will have to play a major role ahead if India are to go all the way in the ongoing World Cup.