ODI cricket has changed a lot over the past few decades. The average par score has increased and things have become more difficult for the bowlers. But one thing that hasn’t changed over the years in the impact of openers and their performance on the game. If the openers score runs quickly in the powerplay, the team can put a winning total on the scoreboard to make things difficult for the opposition. However, it is the openers who have to counter the challenging swing and seam generated from the new pitch in the starting few overs. Thus the openers have to be technically sound and mentally strong. A good opening pair is the one that can build the innings as well as increase the run-scoring pace whenever necessary. Opening in an ODI match is not an individual task. It involves a pair who counter the opposition’s bowling during the starting few overs. There have been several explosive match-winning opening pairs in the past who are famous for their destructive batting. Here’s a list of the top 5 opening pairs who have ever played the game.
5. MS Atapattu-Sanath Jayasuriya: This opening pair was famous for its destructive style of opening and is regarded as the most explosive player to ever play for Sri Lanka. This partnership continued its assault against the opponent bowling attacks for a long time. Retired Left-handed batsman Sanath Jayasuriya was famous for his gigantic six that could intimidate any pace attack in the world. The Sri Lankan opening pair made 3382 runs in the 79 innings that they opened together. This included 8 centuries and 19 half-centuries. The best opening stand between the two players was 237 runs that they scored at an average of 43.92.
4. Virender Sehwag-Sachin Tendulkar: There has hardly been any other explosive opening pair as these two Indian greats. The two right-handed batsmen made many 100-run opening stands together and instilled their fear in the minds of many bowlers across the world. From Pakistan to Australia, Sachin and Sehwag scored against every top bowling side of that time. While Sehwag used to play fearless cricket, Sachin used to dominate the opponent bowlers with his unmatchable skills. The pair added 3919 runs at an average of 42 in the 93 innings they played together. This involved 12-century stands. The two performed both at home and overseas. However, the lower average in overseas games is only because of Sehwag’s aggressive approach.
3. Adam Gilchrist-Matthey Hayden: These two started opening together before T-20 games were introduced. But they mastered the art of attacking cricket even before the introduction of the shortest format of the game. This was the time when the Australians were dominating the world cricket and their approach towards the game was ruthless. The two left-handers were masters of attacking cricket and used to add quick runs to the scoreboard. The golden period of Australian cricket saw Gilchrist and Hayden ripping through the top bowling attacks in the world. They opened together in 114 innings and added 5372 runs that included 16-century stands and 29 half-century stands at an average of 48. Away from home, the duo hand on average of over 50. They are placed second on the list of highest partnership runs. The two were unstoppable in the 2003 World Cup.
2. Gordon Greenidge-Desmond Haynes: This was the time when there was undisputed dominance of West Indies in the world cricket and ODI cricket was of 60 overs. The best bowlers across the world saw the terror of these two openers. They opened for the team known as the ‘Godfathers of Cricket’ between 1979 and 1991. The pair scored a whopping 5150 runs in 102 innings at an average of 52.55. This was the only opening pair in the world to have a 50 plus average among all those opening pairs who scored over 2,000 ODI runs. The two were involved in 15-century stands out of which, 13 came away from home. More than the runs, it was their brutal manner of thrashing that saw the most menacing bowling attacks in the world crumble.
1.Sachin Tendulkar-Sourav Ganguly: At the top of the list is the legendary pair of Sachin-Sehwag and it was not difficult to pick at all. A lot has been written and said about the dangerous opening partnership of these two. However, only those who have seen them play can recall the terror they instilled in the top bowling attacks in the world. Despite their classical approach towards the game, these two managed to score at the pace of run a ball, while neutralizing the opening bowling attack of the opponents. The due opened for India for nearly 11 years, scoring 6609 runs in 136 innings(the highest), with their best opening stand being 258 runs, which is also the 4th highest opening partnership of all time. During these 11 years of dominance on the bowling attacks across the world, the left-right feared opening pair put on 23 half-century partnerships and 21-century partnerships, which is the highest in the world. The two also have a record of the second-highest average of 49.32 while opening for India. The two added 4697 runs in 100 innings they opened in away from home. Apart from this, they also hold the record for most opening partnership runs in victories, 65 out of 136, averaging 67.95.