Opening pairs are one of the essential constituents in a batting line-up. They lay down the foundation of an innings, and more often than not determine how big a score the team puts up..
Opening partnerships, especially in limited-overs cricket like ODIs, assume more significance as a team looks to get a solid start either by setting a total or chasing one.
Three opening pairs in the history of ODIs have put up over 5000 runs. Of this trio, the pair of Sachin Tendulkar and Saurav Ganguly is the most successful in the history of the format, tallying over 6600 cumulative runs for the opening wicket during the period 1996 to 2007.
In this piece, we take a look at five of the most prolific opening pairs in ODI cricket since the turn of the century.
5) Sachin Tendulkar and Saurav Ganguly (3520 runs, 2000-2007)
Tendulkar and Ganguly, the most successful duo in ODI history, finds a mention in the five most prolific opening partnerships in the last twenty years as the pair put on 3520 runs in 67 ODIs during the period 2000 to 2007.
Thirteen of the pair's record 21-century opening stands came in this millennium, including their highest of 258 that came against Kenya in Bolland Park in 2001.
The most successful pair in ODI history opened for the last time in ODIs in 2007 against Pakistan in Gwalior, with India winning the said game by six wickets.
4) Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag (3919 runs, 2002-2012)
Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar is perhaps the most magnificent opener to have graced the gentleman's game. The records he broke during his illustrious career are a testament to his batting ability, especially at the top of the innings in ODIs.
Along with Virender Sehwag, Tendulkar formed an effective opening partnership in the 50-over game. While Sehwag played the role of aggressor, Tendulkar looked to play the role of a grizzled veteran trying to anchor the team's innings.
The pair of Sehwag and Tendulkar, who also opened for India in the 2003 and 2011 World Cup finals, put up 3919 runs in 93 ODIs, a tally that comprised 12 century run stands, with a high of 182.
3) Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock (4206 runs, 2013-2019)
Hashim Amla, before his retirement after the World Cup last year, had established himself as one of the greatest opening batsmen of all time.
Forming an excellent opening partnership with the left-handed Quinton de Kock, who is now the captain of the South African ODI team, Amla was the perfect foil for the swashbuckling de Kock.
The pair of Amla and De Kock put up 4198 runs in 93 games, a tally that comprised of 11-century opening stands. Their highest opening partnership of an unbeaten 282 runs, which came against Bangladesh in Kimberley in 2017, is the fourth-highest opening wicket partnership in ODIs.
2) Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan (4802 runs, 2013- )
India have always produced a plethora of great batsmen. From the likes of Sunil Gavaskar, Mohammad Azharuddin, Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid, to name a few, the country has never been short of world-class batters.
Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan are two such players who have kept the rich Indian batting tradition alive. Opening the innings for India in ODIs since 2013, the right-left pair of Sharma and Dhawan has scored 4802 runs in 107 innings.
With 14 hundredrun opening stands, the active ODI opening pair of India is only behind another Indian pair of Tendulkar and Ganguly for most century opening partnerships in the format.
Sharma and Dhawan, who have developed an excellent understanding with each other, are well on course to surpass their illustrious counterparts and become the most prolific ODI opening pair of all-time.
1) Matthew Hayden & Adam Gilchrist (5310 runs, 2001-2008)
For all the batting partnerships that have been listed above, none can even come close to what Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist achieved in the game during their time together.
Both Hayden and Gilchrist are outright legends of the game. The duo won the Champions Trophy in 2006, the World Cup twice and a plethora of series while batting at the top of the pile for an all-conquering Australian team.
Gilchrist and Hayden were two of the best-attacking batsmen in their era and showed little respect to bowlers while amassing runs at a scorching pace. Their prolific opening partnership in the 50 over format saw them accumulate more than 5000 runs, which is only behind the Indian pair of Sachin Tendulkar and Saurav Ganguly in the all-time list.
During the period 2001 to 2008, the duo put up 16 century stands for the opening wicket, with the highest of 172 coming in a rain-marred final against Sri Lanka in the 2007 World Cup.