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October 24 2018

Do You Have Any Idea Just How Dominant India’s Top Order Is?

- by Benny Thompson

India’s Top Order Better Than The Australian Trio Of The 90s!

In the opening match of the ODI series against West Indies, an imposing target of 323 was chased down without much ado with two of the front 3 scoring mammoth centuries. At the end of the match, there were 8 wickets and almost 8 overs to spare. Like the Australian attack of the late 90s and 2000s, India’s top order has become the best in the world. In fact, statistics reveal that the trio of Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli are even better than them!

They are a delight to watch, especially while chasing a score and it’s largely down to Kohli’s approach. The India captain now has a world record 20 centuries in 75 successful ODI run chases. The second best is Sachin Tendulkar with 14 from 124 innings. The way Kohli selects his shots while keeping the scoreboard ticking as well as protecting his wicket is impeccable. It is the perfect foil should Dhawan or Sharma lose their wicket early.

Which is exactly what happened in the West Indies match. Dhawan fell in the second over but that didn’t slow down the Kohli-Sharma combination at all. They kept scoring at a brisk pace and put on a 246-run partnership. That is their fifth 200+ partnership and no other pair in ODI history has more!

It wasn’t just the partnership but the way they approached it. Usually it is Sharma who goes on the offensive with Kohli playing anchorman. But in Guwahati, they switched roles with ease with Kohli leading the charge and Sharma playing back up. But that didn’t stop the latter; after Kohli departed at 140, Sharma went on to score an unbeaten 152. That is the sixth time he is scoring 150 or more and no other batsman in history has more. Previously another Tendulkar record, in case you’re wondering.

A couple of decades ago, when Australia when three ODI World Cups on the trot, they had a dominant front three in Adam Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden and Ricky Ponting. While all of them were destructive juggernauts on their day, none of them really could play second fiddle when the other was attacking. Between them, they managed seven 150+ partnerships. Dhawan, Sharma and Kohli already have 18 between them. That’s how dominating they have been.

This year alone, the three have taken it to the next level. The highest scoring ODI batsmen in 2018 are Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root and Jason Roy with 1025, 936 and 890 runs respectively. Next in line are Kohli, Sharma and Dhawan with 889, 793 and 789. But add the fact that all three Englishmen have played 21 or more matches while Dhawan and Sharma have played 15 and Kohli only 10 and you realize just how good the Indian trio is. Just to give you some perspective, Kohli averages a mindboggling 127 runs this year!

While their dominance has papered the fact that India’s middle order is shaky, you can’t really blame them. The top order has been so good that the middle order is struggling for game time. How do you expect them to settle in when they hardly get to play! The flipside is that on the off chance that the front three depart early, India will be in a major spot of bother. That is a conundrum that the Indian think tank need to figure out sooner than later.

All these stats are reassuring but it will come to nothing if it does not translate into trophies. Well, with the 2019 World Cup looming in the distance, all this bodes well for Team India!

 

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