Australia's last century partnership for any wicket had come in November 2018 against South Africa at Durban. In fact, they have had a total of just seven hundred plus partnerships since the end of the Champions Trophy in England in 2017, the worst by any team in the format.
To put things into perspective, India have 36 such stands in this time frame while England have 23.
The faltering batting unit has been a worrying problem for Australia heading into the World Cup and with two giants in Steven Smith and David Warner absent for most of this period, they have struggled to stitch together substantial partnerships.
That they have played 24 ODIs in this time frame and won just five matches is an indicator of how poor Australia have been in forging partnerships, amongst other weaknesses in their batting and bowling departments.
The win/loss ratio of 0.263 since the Champions Trophy is also the worst for any team heading into the World Cup.
At Ranchi, Finch and Khawaja put on a brave display to alter this trend. And, while the openers have been giving Australia the best returns since the Champions Trophy, Finch's own lacklustre form had been a headache for the visitors.
Finch has been part of six of the seven century stands Australia have put together since the CT 2017 – this shows how much they have been dependent on their skipper and the value he brings to the side. He has combined with Shaun Marsh, David Warner, Khawaja, Mitchell Marsh, Steven Smith and Travis Head in forging century partnerships during this period.
Despite what his recent form suggests, Finch has done well in this phase for the Aussies, racking up 899 runs in 20 matches at an average of 44.95 with four tons and three half-centuries. This is more than his career average of 36.84.
With him at the top, Australia have averaged a healthy 45.12 for the opening wicket in this time-frame. The run-rate is also on the higher side and three of the seven century stands have been for the opening wicket.
The Australian second-wicket partnership has also done fairly well, exemplified by an average of over 39, a good run rate of 5.45 and seven 50-plus stands. The sixth-wicket contribution also stands out which kind of underlines the role of someone like Marcus Stoinis who has had effective partnerships with Alex Carey and Tim Paine in this time frame. Glenn Maxwell has also played a handy role in the lower middle-order but the fact is they have no one down the order to influence the game as much as Finch has done opening the innings.
The lack of consistency in putting up telling partnerships is evident from the low number of fifty-plus stands in this time frame - 42 in 24 matches - the third worst among World Cup bound teams after Bangladesh and South Africa, which have also been in a soup with their batting.
The Finch - Khawaja stand has given Australia a major boost in the series. It is now high time that the middle-order follows suit.
First Published: March 10, 2019, 8:32 AM IST