The rampant duo, who have virtually owned the opening slots ever since they first padded up together and strung together a 127-run stand against South Africa in the Champions Trophy in 2013, had Pakistan bowlers on their knees in the Super Four game in Dubai on Sunday, combining in a game-sealing 210-run opening partnership, their highest ever. India’s opponents in the final will know that if this pair clicks again, the game will be as good as sealed.
There have been few opening pairs as successful as the Rohit – Dhawan one in ODIs but the ridiculous frequency of their exploits at the top of the order is often ignored, even drowned in the frenzy of a stupendous no.3. Since the inception of ODI cricket, only six opening pairs have more opening partnership runs than Rohit and Dhawan.
With an average of 47.48 in 82 matches, Rohit and Dhawan have not just worn out opposition teams with their relentless run-making but also protected a more than inconsistent middle-order in this time frame. They have also been effective in converting their starts to bigger partnerships, evident from a conversion rate of 52%, highest among all opening pairs (min 1500 partnership runs) in the history of the game (the conversion column in the chart ranges from red to green with green indicating a good conversion rate)
Since the 2015 World Cup in Australasia, Rohit and Dhawan are India’s most successful batting pair (for any wicket) with 1914 runs at an average of 46.68 including 12 partnerships of 50 or more (6 of which has been converted to 100s). This is particularly telling for India have a brilliant no.3 who has more often than not been amongst the runs.
The runs have come at a run rate of 5.55, which is not in the range of what the Roy – Bairstow pair score for England now, but definitely pretty good for openers who are in there for the long haul and not just to give flashy starts.
Acing the chases
What possibly sets apart Dhawan and Rohit from their predecessors is an unforeseen hunger to seal off run-chases by providing Virat Kohli, arguably the best batsmen in run-chases in ODIs, a solid platform to build from. Since the 2015 World Cup, Rohit and Dhawan are India’s most prolific partners in successful run-chases with 904 runs in 15 innings at a mind-blowing average of 60.26. They have a run-rate almost touching six (5.94) and seven stands of 50 or more in this period when batting second and winning games.
Add in players from across the globe and the duo still manage to remain in the top three of best batting pairs in successful run-chases behind Hashim Amla – Quinton de Kock and Eoin Morgan - Joe Root. Discount the winning matches category and Rohit - Dhawan still come second with an average of 55.36 and run rate of 5.85 which means they have been consistently contributing from the top even when India were not winning matches.
Among openers, they are the second best after the South African duo of Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla in successful run-chases since the last World Cup. As was the case against Pakistan in Dubai, a stupendous start to the innings while chasing has more often than not tilted the balance of the contest completely in India’s direction.
Clicking when it matters – record in multi-nation tournaments
The double-century stand against Pakistan the other night was the seventh stand of 100 or more in ODIs in multi-nation tournaments (series involving 3 or more nations) for Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan. The duo has cracked the code for pressure games and have been India’s most reliable pair in big matches. An average of 59.78 is among the best for India in these tournaments. They have also been uber consistent which is evident from a stand of 50 or more roughly every second innings.
That some of the other widely popular pairs take an innings more on an average to notch up a stand of 50 or more is testimony to the consistency of India’s present-day openers. It would also not be stretching it to say that the duo has been the primary reason for India’s excellence in multi-nation tournaments dating back to the 2013 Champions Trophy when they first batted together. In terms of runs contributed to team totals, Dhawan – Rohit have been responsible for 26.61% of all runs India have scored in tournaments since the beginning of the 2013 Champions Trophy.
Only 7 times in 31 matches have they contributed to less than 10% of the team’s total in multi-team series. On the other hand, the opening pair has put in more than 40% of the team total on eight occasions. The best of them came against Pakistan in Dubai where they made 210 of the 238 runs India eventually made to chase down the target (a whopping percentage of 88.24).
Against Pakistan, Rohit and Dhawan have been destructive individually and as a pair. In 7 matches against the arch-rivals in multi-nation tournaments, Rohit and Dhawan have recorded four partnerships of 50 or more at an average of 77.42. In these matches, their contribution to team totals have been 56.86, 7.35, 11.33, 42.63, 0, 52.44 and 88.24 (in percentages) respectively.
With the 2019 World Cup looming, India can rest easy and not worry about runs from the top of the order where two giants feed the carcass of the opponent to a hungry lion at no.3, who more often than not, shreds them to bits.
First Published: September 26, 2018, 2:59 PM IST