T20 World Cup top batter predictions: KL Rahul to continue his fine form for tournament favourites

Stats suggest opening batters are the ones to follow, with Quinton de Kock also in with a decent shout of scoring the most tournament runs.

Cricket's T20 World Cup got under way last Sunday in the Middle East and Planet Sport is backing New Zealand for white-ball glory.

However, Kane Williamson is not the man to be top runscorer at this year's World Cup, according to our Andy Schooler.

When and where is the T20 World Cup taking place and who is in it?

Dates: October 17 to November 12, 2021

Hosts: UAE (Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah) and Oman (Muscat)

Format: 16 teams. Round one: Two groups of four, top two in each progress to Super 12s - two groups of six, top two in each progress to SFs.

Best bets:

KL Rahul to be top tournament runscorer at 12/1

Quinton de Kock to be top tournament runscorer at 12/1

History provides us with answers

KL Rahul is being backed to be top runscorer at this year's T20 World Cup

Before you begin a search for anything, it usually makes sense to have some idea what you are looking for.

And in terms of finding the 2021 T20 World Cup's top runscorer, history provides us with that vision.

Of the six previous World T20 tournaments, an opener has finished as top runscorer in five of them. The other winner - one of the greatest batters of his generation, Virat Kohli - came in at three.

Essentially, if you don't bat in the top three, it's unlikely you'll be winning this market - hardly surprising given there are only 20 overs in each match in which to bat.

In total, there's a maximum of 140 overs for a player to post his tally, with the two finalists playing seven games, the beaten semi-finalists six and the rest five.

Turning to the history books again shows that five of the six previous market winners have reached at least the semi-finals. And the one that didn't is something of an anomaly - Tamim Iqbal topped the run charts in 2016 after appearing in the first group stage, meaning he still got to play as many games as the eventual finalists.

It is worth noting at this point that Planet Sport Bet's market will only take into account runs scored in the Super 12 stage and beyond; the first-round group stage featuring the minnows does not count.

So essentially, our search is already narrowed down to an opener, playing for a team likely to progress out of the Super 12s.

The odds at time of writing suggest India and New Zealand will make it out of Group B, with England being joined by either Australia or West Indies from Group A.

KL Rahul to deliver

The man who fits the bill best is India's KL Rahul, at around 12/1.

He's opening for the tournament favourites and while I was happy to oppose India in my outright preview here, it's hardly difficult to see them going deep once again.

Key to my decision is Rahul's experience and excellent record in the UAE where this year's tournament is being held.

The Punjab Kings star finished as top runscorer in the 2020 Indian Premier League, staged in the UAE, and he fell just nine runs short of repeating the feat in this year's tournament, the second half of which has taken place across Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah - the T20 World Cup venues.

A part of his runscoring feats has been his six-hitting ability and he comfortably claimed the most-sixes crown in this year's IPL.

His most recent scores in the UAE have been 49-21-21-67-39-98*, a run of form which looks ideal preparation for what's to come over the next few weeks.

html) */?>

Critics will point out his struggles during the series win over England earlier this year - just 15 runs in four matches - but prior to that Rahul had reached 50 in seven of 14 Twenty20 internationals.

A final boost to Rahul's hopes is the fact he won't have to play in Sharjah - India have no game scheduled there.

Why is that significant?

Well, while it is the smallest of the three grounds, it has proved the hardest to bat on in the IPL.

This was highlighted by South Africa's Aiden Markram in a recent interview: "Sharjah was probably the toughest batting wicket out of the three here, and Abu Dhabi was probably the nicest to bat on."

The data backs Markram up.

The average IPL first-innings score in Sharjah this year was 136.9, with Abu Dhabi at 159. The figure for Dubai - where Rahul and India will play most of their games - across its entire T20 history is 155.

In general, the surfaces have been fairly slow, more in keeping with the sub-continent, but that will suit Rahul, whose game is not simply about hitting the ball out of the ground.

Another quote, this one from England's Liam Livingstone, also caught my eye when looking at the batting strips.

He said: "The pitches have been so different from ground to ground and sometimes you can get caught out by not adapting quick enough. Some of them can be quite bouncy when the grass is left on, but when it's taken off, they can be really slow.

"Clearing an 80-metre boundary in England is a lot easier than it is out here. That's going to be the challenge going into the World Cup, trying to adapt as quickly as you can."

That's a bit off-putting for those looking to back a renowned hitter like Evin Lewis, a player I seriously considered at 16/1.

The West Indian opener's career strike-rate in T20Is is second only to Glenn Maxwell, the Australian who is a finisher and bats further down.

The West Indian opener's career strike rate in T20Is is second only to Glenn Maxwell, the Australian who is a finisher and bats further down. Since the start of 2020, his strike rate of 167.2 is the best in the international game by some distance.

Lewis has also impressed in franchise cricket, holding the second highest strike-rate in the 2021 IPL, while he finished runner-up in the Caribbean Premier League run charts earlier this year, amassing a whopping 38 sixes - 13 more than his nearest rival.

He'll get two games in Abu Dhabi, which looks a positive, but there has to be concern over his suitability for the conditions.

Maybe I'll live to regret it, but my preference for backing Lewis would be in a 'most sixes' or, better still, 'best strike rate' market.

Perhaps a more steady accumulator of runs would be a better option. I'll not talk about a slouch - this is T20 cricket after all - but someone like New Zealand's Kane Williamson (around 14/1) or Pakistan's Mohammad Rizwan (at around 16/1) could fit the bill.

However, I think in Quinton de Kock you get a hybrid of the big-hitter but also an element of control which can produce relatively long innings of steady runscoring. His experience should also help when it comes to that adaptability factor.

The South African opener has been a model of consistency in white-ball cricket for some time now and he's certainly developed his game against the spinners.

That consistency is reflected in his numbers.

Of the players to have scored at least 500 T20I runs since the start of 2020, De Kock is averaging the highest number of runs per match (38.95) - a metric deliberately chosen rather than the 'normal' average to sift out those batting down the order.

His total of 740 runs has been bettered by only two players in that period and he's done it with the fifth-best strike rate.

Quinton De Kock has reached 50 in five of his 10 T20Is.

Filtering things down to 2021, De Kock has reached 50 in five of his 10 T20Is. Most recently he's been getting used to the UAE conditions by playing for Mumbai Indians in the IPL. Last year in that competition at the same venues, he finished sixth in the run charts.

The negatives here look to be that South Africa are expected to exit in the Super 12 stage, although that's far from guaranteed, and that they will play twice in Sharjah, a fact which is at least a little offset by two trips to Abu Dhabi.

Yes, De Kock doesn't quite fit the perfect profile in history terms but other aspects really do suit and so I'm happy to pick him as my back-up option at 12/1.

I'd usually pick out a player at longer odds for an each-way bet - it's a quarter of the odds for a place in the top four in this market - but I've struggled to find anyone worth backing further down the list of contenders.

You can't be backing anyone who will bat too far down the order so while the likes of Andre Russell, Keiron Pollard and Hardik Pandya may well produce fireworks, again, that will be of benefit in other markets more than this one.

The one I came closest to backing was 25/1 shot Aiden Markram.

Across 2020 and 2021, only two players have scored their T20I runs faster than Markram, who has been a notable addition to the South African line-up.

He's set to bat at three in this tournament, so should get plenty of opportunities.

However, the downsides - playing for the Proteas and two games in Sharjah - were enough to put me off at the price, particularly given I'm already backing his team-mate.

Previous top tournament runscorers

2016 - Tamim Iqbal (Bangladesh, out in group stage)

2014 - Virat Kohli (India, runners-up)

2012 - Shane Watson (Australia, semi-final)

2010 - Mahela Jayawardene (Sri Lanka, semi-final)

2009 - Tillakaratne Dilshan (Sri Lanka, runners-up)

2007 - Matthew Hayden (Australia, semi-final)

Draw

Super 12s

Group 1

England

Australia

South Africa

West Indies

Winner Group A (Sri Lanka or Ireland)

Bangladesh

Group 2

India

Pakistan

New Zealand

Afghanistan

Runner-up Group A (Sri Lanka, Ireland or Namibia)

Scotland

READ MORE: T20 World Cup - New Zealand look a good bet at tempting odds to add to Test crown

Latest Soccer Videos