There used to be times when the Test team of India had opening pairs like Sunil Gavaskar and Chetan Chauhan, Gavaskar and Kris Srikkanth, Sehwag and Jaffer and the list will produce a couple of decent names. However, gone are the days when most of the Test matches used to be a prolonged contest without many upshots.
Now with the advent of T20, the thrill has become a lot more rampant and teams focus more on scoring at a faster pace rather than hanging around and entertaining the bowlers for a longer period of time. With the change of times, especially of late, India has struggled to find decent batters who could keep them afloat till the end like Dravid, Tendulkar and Laxman. Let’s not forget that they had openers like Sehwag, showing them the light of the day that made life easier for them to carry on the assault.
We will take a quick glance at five opening pairs that India currently has and can have in the near future that could be the pennant-bearer of excellence for the Indians in the longest format of the sport.
#1 Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill
This is undoubtedly India’s best opening pair in Test cricket at the moment. This partnership, however, isn’t ages old and was introduced in December of last year when India collided with Australia in the Border Gavaskar Trophy.
Ever since Gil’s inception in Test cricket, the duo has shown exemplary command and has played a few decent partnerships. Despite the fact that the pair crashed frequently against England with Gill not really able to flap his wings, they were once again back to their very best in the World Test Championship finale. Gill plays the anchor to Rohit Sharma’s carnage and the duo perfectly complements each other in red-ball cricket.
#2 Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli
Kohli needs to up his game at the earliest if he doesn’t want the selectors to come scavenging for him. It has been a while now since he has played one of those ginormous knocks and has failed to convert his starts. Now, there are times when a player needs to change his position to find his footing. One of the biggest examples of the same is Rohit Sharma whose infernal showdowns in the middle-order almost pushed him to the fringes of extinction before Dhoni went for a final change.
Kohli is a perfect blend of aggression and calm when he is out with the bat. If there is one thing that has been bothering him of late is the drastic movement of the ball. For some reason, he seems in a blue funk and nothing is able to come to his deliverance. In case if he switches to the opening slot, he will get a lot more time in the middle as Sharma can rack up those quick runs. Given the stature of both the batters, if this pair clicks, the opponents can very well be staring at a massive void.
#3 Rohit Sharma and Devdutt Padikkal
Padikkal is still to step in the international arena in the longest format of the sport. In the recent days of IPL, he has shown some decent command with the willow and has been fairly exemplary with his strokeplay.
Now there may be questions that why exactly does Padikkal needs to be here if we already have a couple of openers in Mayank Agarwal and Prithvi Shaw. Agarwal’s recent outings have been highly questionable and with a massive vulnerability against swing, he exposes India’s middle-order way too early to the new ball. Shaw will need to prove himself as he hasn’t been at the top of his game since Australia.
#4 KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma
It seems that India’s leading run-scorer in the World Test Championship is absolutely unstoppable and will most likely start in all the partnerships. Rahul and Sharma have already shown the world that how effective this pair can be if harnessed properly. Rahul played a brilliant knock in the first innings against England and was off to a sublime start in the second innings too, only to come a cropper against an almost unplayable delivery by Broad.
Rahul is fearless and loves to attack the bowlers. Given his decent height and flexibility, he can get on top of the ball in a convincing way and is able to belt out a few good strokes without waiting for those bad balls. Also, if there is one thing that defines Rahul, that is his patience. He is in absolutely no rush to score but will not let go of an opportunity if provided.
#5 Rishabh Pant and Rohit Sharma
This is a very outrageous possibility but this can very well bring back the lost Virender Sehwag. Pant is an extraordinary batsman who simply doesn’t know how to stop. Even in the WTC final, when he was needed to play under pressure, he belted out a fiery knock and got out in the process.
Given his attacking instinct, he can actually be promoted to the top of the order to rekindle the aggression that Sehwag used to bring to the mixer. He is a stroke player and quite an excellent one to that. Maybe, if this duo can score a quickfire 100 runs at the top, things become a bit easier for the middle-order to take their time and settle down.