>> Dhawan and Rahane’s century stand against Afghanistan was the first since June 2013
>> At one stage, India witnessed only two 50-plus opening stands in eight games
Well begun is half done! If Team India paid heed to this adage, they probably wouldn’t have had to endure batting problems in the opening position at the Asia Cup.
Shikhar Dhawan (left) and Rohit Sharma. Pic/AFP
Figures do not necessarily provide a real picture, but in this case, it certainly highlights the bitter truth: India’s second best opening stand after Wednesday’s 121-run stand by Shikhar Dhawan and Ajinkya Rahane was 64 against New Zealand in the third match of the five-match series.
Dhawan and Rahane’s century stand against Afghanistan was the first since June 2013 when Dhawan and Rohit Sharma put on 101 against West Indies at the Oval in the Champions Trophy. The most prestigious one-day silverware apart from the World Cup was clinched thanks to some solid opening partnerships between Rohit and Dhawan.
The duo clicked in their first tournament as partners, putting on a couple of 100-run stands and two 50-plus partnerships. The only match where they did not click was the final against England which was reduced to a 20-over affair due to rain.
India continued their winning run in the tri-series in West Indies where Dhoni’s men won three matches with the openers putting up a 123-run stand at Port of Spain. However, India’s opening woes started from the Zimbabwe tour for which Dhoni was rested. Though the openers failed to provide a decent start, India managed to whitewash the minnows. The openers bounced backed in the high-scoring series against Australia at home. Team India needed their openers to chase down mammoth totals and the Rohit-Dhawan pair did not disappoint. The three matches that India won (Jaipur, Nagpur and Bangalore), the openers played a key role with 100-run stands. The two matches that Dhoni’s men lost (Pune and Mohali) did not see vital contributions from the opening pair.
The openers were a complete disaster in South Africa, New Zealand and the recent Asia Cup. At one stage, India witnessed only two 50-plus opening stands in eight games.
India’s overseas performance is a growing concern and it is important to arrest the dramatic slide. Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men not winning a tournament since the 2013 Champions Trophy is a serious concern especially in the context of defending the World Cup crown in testing conditions in Australia and New Zealand next year.
Team India will now get into Twenty20 mode with the World T20 later this month followed with the Indian Premier League. But if India’s ODI fortunes have to change, their openers cannot have too many aberrations.
Now, that was some performance!
Champions Trophy 2013 (Opening partnerships)
vs SA at Cardiff: 127 runs
vs West Indies at The Oval: 101 runs
vs Pakistan at Birmingham: 58 runs
vs Sri Lanka at Cardiff: 77 runs
vs England at Birmingham (final): 19 runs
>>Surinder Khanna-Ghulam Parkar (97* vs Sri Lanka at Sharjah)
>>Surinder Khanna-Ghulam Parkar (51 vs Pakistan at Sharjah)
>> Srikkanth-Sidhu (47 vs B’desh at Chittagong)
>> Srikkanth- Sidhu (89 vs Sri Lanka at Dhaka)
>> Srikkanth-Sidhu (13 vs Pakistan at Dhaka)
>> Srikkanth-Sidhu (45 vs Sri Lanka at Dhaka)
>> WV Raman-Sidhu (121 vs Bangladesh at Chandigarh)
>> N Sidhu-Shastri (24 vs Sri Lanka at Cuttack)
>> N Sidhu-Shastri (14 vs Sri Lanka at Kolkata)
>> Prabhakar-Tendulkar (72 vs B’desh at Sharjah)
>> Prabhakar-Tendulkar (2 vs Pakistan at Sharjah)
>> Prabhakar-Tendulkar (161 vs SL at Sharjah)
>> Prabhakar-Tendulkar (48 vs Sri Lanka at Sharjah)