Predicting the best batsman in the World Cup would have been easier had this been 2011, 2007, 2003, 1999, 1996 and may be even 1992. But since God has stopped taking stance after November 16, 2013 it seems a more tedious job now.
Also, the A-listers need to be discussed before finally settling for one. There are many contenders to start with. But they trickle down to a handful taking into account the conditions in Australia and New Zealand. What both countries have in common is the size of the stadiums. If the organisers don't play party-poopers by bringing in the boundary ropes then hitting sixes won't be easy in the World Cup. And given the heavy outfields there would be more threes than fours. It requires an extremely fit player to be a good batsman in these conditions.
There could be bounce but New Zealand may offer some swing as well so to be successful a batsman needs to be good on his backfoot. Considering these factors I feel Steve Smith, AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli will score heavily and consistently. This World Cup is theirs for the taking.
Brendon McCullum and Kumar Sangakkara have pedigree and have also scored centuries in the recently completed series in New Zealand. But I have to go by the devil on my shoulder and not keep them in the top bracket.
Same for David Warner and Chris Gayle. Both are great to watch but they are also mainly power players. Gayle depends way too much on his huge aerial shots and those big innings are too few and far between. Warner has made 12 Test centuries in 36 matches as opposed to just three in 54 ODIs. It might not mean anything but he is still far from being a Matthew Hayden or an Adam Gilchrist.
But Steve Smith is in a league of his own. It requires more than talent to make four centuries in consecutive Tests and I firmly believe good Test form is a precursor to batting well in 50 overs. Smith's athleticism is an advantage and he can handle spinners well. Dubbed leg-spinner and a handy bat till a few years back, Smith's career has taken an upswing after coming in at No.3 more often nowadays. Regardless of Michael Clarke's availability, Smith will be the man for Australia.
Likewise, Kohli is the go-to-guy for India. He has the stamina to bat for 50 overs, the hunger to score big every match and the technique to achieve it. He has just one World Cup hundred to his name but can easily add a few more.
AB de Villiers recently rewrote records so there isn't much to write about him apart from the fact that his will be the most prized scalp of the World Cup. No.4 is more his usual spot but there is no method to his madness. And the best thing about his batting is that he never seems under pressure.
It would be unfair to choose among the three but at gunpoint I would say de Villiers will have the biggest impact as no other batsman uses the crease like him. For every delivery he has two shots in front of the stumps and one behind. And that's something special.
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