Top-sy turvy: Opening duo runs into a rough patch at World Twenty20

Hindustan Times | By, Colombo
Sep 21, 2012 12:50 PM IST

In the last two editions of the World Twenty20, India were without the combination of Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir at the top of the order. On both occasions the team flopped. Sanjjeev K Samyal reports. Sehwag and Gambhir together | In last three matches

In the last two editions of the World Twenty20, India were without the combination of Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir at the top of the order. On both occasions the team flopped.


The two opened for most part of the inaugural edition in South Africa in 2007 and India vanquished England, South Africa, Australia and Pakistan to lift the trophy. That shows the difference the two can make.

Ever since he agreed to open over a decade ago, Sehwag has been the catalyst in most of India's strong batting shows. Later, when Delhi teammate Gambhir joined him, they formed a formidable combination. Gambhir and Sehwag in last three matches

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Impact pair
In the 2007 WT20 triumph, they played a key role, raising partnerships of 76 versus New Zealand, 136 against England besides useful runs against South Africa (32) and Australia (30). The impact of that on the bouncy wickets of South Africa was that India's lowest total in those big matches was 153 for five, against the hosts. Gambhir aggregated 227 runs at 37.83 in seven innings. Sehwag's contribution was 133 at 26.60 in six as he missed the final due to injury.

The injury jinx has affected him ever since and Wednesday's game against Afghanistan was his first in World T20 since the semifinal against Australia in 2007. India did not look the same without Sehwag in their ranks, failing to win a single game in the Super Eights at the 2009 and 2010 championships in England and the West Indies.

Stong backing
Though he is yet to find his best form in the competition, his captain and coach would be pleased to have the services of their no 1 pair. But the duo will have to match its reputation with runs on board. Their form has been indifferent and their failure against Afghanistan will add pressure going up against England next.

Since the one-day series in July against Sri Lanka, their opening combination in limited overs cricket has seen scores of 7, 31, 8, 0 (in the first four ODIs against Lanka); 9 and 41 in the T20 warm-up games against Sri Lanka and Pakistan, and 15 against Afghanistan.

More than the lack of runs, it's the manner of dismissal that's a cause of worry. Against Afghanistan, both paid the price for poor footwork.

Sticking to a team
“In T20, I believe if you play with one combination, then it will be good for the team. If you keep changing it because you think it is not working for you, then according to me it has a negative impact, especially when it comes to batting. You can experiment with the bowling in T20 but in batting, you have a set order,” said Virat Kohli.

“In T20, you don't need a start of 80-90; 40-50 is good enough. We have had only one match. The kind of openers we have, when they get going, they will give us a very good start and at a very good pace.”

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