5 greatest ODI openers of all time
The role of an opener in coloured clothing is a far cry from the one against the red ball: while the first two batsmen to come out in Tests are tasked with the dirty job of grinding the new ball, and seeing off the initial testing period of play, openers in limited-overs have the license to play their shots and accumulate quick runs in the powerplay overs.
Condensed fields, better surfaces and shorter boundaries further assist their cause.
However, some players managed to consistently develop their game at the top, even with the changing dynamics of the one-day format. With the turn of the new millennium, opening had developed into a specialised art.
Here are five players who have been the best exponents of this art over the years:
The minimum criteria for selection has been set at 150 innings, hence Rohit Sharma, a three-time double centurion in ODIs, misses out.
Other notable absentees include Sourav Ganguly, Chris Gayle, Gordon Greenidge and Virender Sehwag.
The rock at the top of an inconsistent Pakistani batting line-up of the 90s, Saeed Anwar’s grace was overshadowed by his remarkable effectiveness at the top of the order, sometimes single-handedly taking the men in green past the finish line.
A prolific scorer against the Indian team particularly, Anwar was known for his long stays at the crease even in ODIs, most notably during his mammoth knock of 194, that remained the joint-highest ODI score for thirteen years. A remarkable reader of line and length, Anwar played to his strengths but developed them to such an extent that, on his day, he looked impregnable.
In a total of 220 games at the top of the order, Anwar scored 8156 runs at an average of close to 40 and with 20 centuries to his name. His impact on the game remained unquestioned: in 21 World Cup games, he averaged close to 54, with three hundreds.