Two days into the first Test between India and England and one can already see some huge positives in the Indian team. The hosts haven’t had a great time in five-day cricket off late. They were outplayed in both England and Australia and though they won both their matches against New Zealand but it will be only fair to say that they were not convincing doing that.
Before the England series, there were some massive questions that were raised and the toughest out of the lot was should India do away with Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir as the Test openers. Four openers in the 15-member squad ensured that the doubts were not only in the minds of the critics but also the selectors. The allegations looked justified, the last 100 run partnership that the two had was way back in December 2010 in South Africa and their poor performance did affect the team adversely.
But the first day of Ahmedabad Test ensured that all these talks of changing the openers will get some rest. Gambir and Sehwag put together 134 runs for the first wicket and what was good was the manner in which they got the runs. Though Sehwag scored at a fluent pace, everyone will agree that he was ready to sweat it out in the middle. Gambhir did look a bit scratchy but kept going and ensured that India get off to a great start.
It is a fact that opening the batting in Test matches is the toughest job and to have a solid opening pair is critical. All teams that have done well over a period of time have had some terrific openers and it will be fair to say that Gambhir and Sehwag do fall in that category. Providing the early momentum to an innings can take a team a long way and Indian captain MS Dhoni will be delighted that his openers have started well in this season.
Now let’s have a look at some of the numbers when Sehwag and Gambhir have opened together and why them being in good form is so important for the team’s cause.
The first time that the two got together was in 2004 and they immediately tasted success as the two put up 218 runs against South Africa in their third innings together. Till now they have opened in 82 innings together, they have scored 4244 runs at an average of 53.72. Together the two have got more than 100 run partnership 11 times, with two of them being above 200. 24 times they have scored more than 50 runs together.
Gambhir and Sehwag are fifth in the list of the highest number of century partnership for the first wicket trailing behind Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes (16), Jack Hobbs and Herbert Sutcliffe (15), Justin Langer and Matthew Hayden (14) and Alastair Cook and Andrew Strauss (12).
Gambhir and Sehwag’s record is terrfeic and they are one of the best opening pairs in the world, there is no doubt that they have been the best players for India at the top since the time the country started to play cricket. But there is one thing that makes their stand extra special and it is the performance of the team whenever the duo have added more than 100 runs. Out of the previous 10 times (oe match is still in progress), India have won six matches, they have drawn three and have lost only one match.
That is an incredible thing and shows the effect the two have on Indian team’s fortunes. Their 11th century opening partnership came in this Test and India are looking good to win the match.
The Indian team is in the pursuit to get back their world number one title and a lot will depend on these two man if they have to do so.
By Gaurav Jha
Indian Sports News Network