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Dawid Malan: England’s unsung hero ahead of the World Cup

England have announced the 15 players who will attempt to defend their Cricket World Cup title and one man who has done his utmost to ensure he is on the plane to India is Dawid Malan.

Malan was among England's provisional squad for the 50-over world championship, which begins on 5th October, but some blistering T20 performances from Harry Brook had opened a debate as to whether the Yorkshire star would thrust his way into the final squad - and who would have to make way.

But Malan has risen to the challenge of his county team-mate in some style during this month's ODI series success over New Zealand, with two fifties and a flawless century in three innings, and has booked his place on the plane for India.

What2023 Cricket ODI World Cup
WhenThursday, 5th October to Sunday 19th November, 2023
How to watchSky Sports Cricket
OddsOutright: India 11/5, England 3/1, Australia 9/2, Pakistan 13/2, New Zealand 15/2

What is Dawid Malan's record in One-Day Internationals?

Malan has featured 21 times for England in One-Day Internationals since making his debut against Ireland prior to the 2019 World Cup.

The 36-year-old has an enviable record in that time, scoring 1,046 runs with five centuries and five fifties.

Malan's average of 61.52 is the third-highest in ODI history of players who have played a minimum of 20 innings in the format.

Only three players - Pakistan duo Fakar Zaman and Imam Ul-Haq and India's rising superstar Shubman Gill - have taken fewer innings to reach 1,000 runs in ODIs than Malan.

However, the fact it took the England batter four years and 135 days to reach that milestone indicates the bit-part nature of his involvement in England's ODI squad since his debut.

What form has Dawid Malan been in?

Excellent is perhaps the only word to describe Malan's form at present.

Injuries to regular ODI openers Jonny Bairstow and Jason Roy meant there was an opportunity for Malan to cement his claim for a place in England's World Cup squad, and he has grabbed his chance with both hands.

Malan began this summer's four-match T20 series against New Zealand with a terrific 54 from 42 balls at Chester-le-Street before failing to fire in the remainder of the series.

But just when his World Cup place was coming under scrutiny amidst some exhilarating knocks from Brook in those T20 matches, Malan rose to the challenge in the following ODI series against the Black Caps.

In Bairstow and Roy's absence, Malan opened alongside Brook in the first match of the series in Cardiff and stroked 54 from 53 deliveries at the top of the order.

Malan missed the second match of the series at the Rose Bowl, but he returned to the top of the order for the third contest at The Oval, where he compiled another stylish half-century.

Ben Stokes' record-breaking knock at the south London venue meant Malan's 96 from 95 balls was somewhat overshadowed, but it again proved his worth to England.

And while he had to play second fiddle at The Oval, Malan was the undoubted centre of attention in the final match of the series at Lord's on Friday, as he hit a masterful 127 from 114 balls to guide England to a 3-1 series success over the Black Caps.

What is Dawid Malan's best role for England?

Malan has mainly batted in the top three for England in ODIs and it would be a surprise to see him not bat in one of those positions, having been given the nod for the World Cup.

However, with Joe Root a fixture at three despite his recent struggles against New Zealand, an opening berth seems Malan's likeliest place in England's order.

England went with power couple Bairstow and Roy at the last World Cup, which was played on home soil, but conditions will be very different in India and there is no doubt that Malan's more calculated style could give the reigning champions balance at the top of the order.

That's not to say Malan can't push the scoring. Indeed, he was the one pushing the rate during the powerplay overs in the ODIs against New Zealand and he hit a series-high 34 fours - 17 more than next-best Stokes - despite playing one game fewer than most other players.

Does Dawid Malan get into England's best XI?

On current form it will be very difficult for captain Jos Buttler to drop him.

Regular opener Roy had not played cricket of any kind since the final of this year's edition of The Hundred and has now lost his place in the final squad to Brook, who is a less likely selection at the top of the order.

Also in Malan's favour is that he is probably a better player of spin than most, which could be crucial in India.

Roy seemed set to be given a chance in the upcoming three-match ODI series against Ireland, but the selectors have made their decision before then and Malan has taken a firm grip on one of the opening slots due to his performances against New Zealand.

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