The solid middle-order of India was about these two playersCricket is a game of partnerships whether it is of batting or of bowling. Some batsmen endure the tough conditions and the dangerous bowlers to make things easier for the rest. Some bowlers hunt in pairs, sometimes one keeping an end quiet and creating pressure for the partner to benefit.Over the decades, there have been batting and bowling pairs who have almost had a telepathic understanding between them. These pairs benefited their team by together forming a great shield or a potent force which helped the cause of their team.Such pairs excelled because of the support they received from the other end and things were rarely ever the same once the partnership was broken.Here we look at several such pairs who achieved great heights.NOTE: Sachin-Ganguly, who were the world’s greatest ODI opening pair with tons of records don’t feature on this list purely because they were not telepathic and succeeded because of their individual brilliance and contrasting left-right combination.The Greenidge-Haynes pair misses out narrowly and so does the great pair of Hayden and Langer that together weathered many storms.
#1 Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis
Almost every great list of partnerships in Test cricket would feature this pair. They were legendary by numbers alone - 559 wickets in 61 Tests at a stunning average of 22.12 and strike-rate of 45.65 in spite of bowling on some of the flattest and most unfriendly wickets for fast bowlers in the sub-continent.
But numbers rarely tell the story of this great partnership. The Sultans of Swing changed the art of fast bowling with the red cherry, splitting their spoils almost equally, Wasim with 282 wickets and Waqar with 277. The proponents of reverse swing could make the ball talk at searing pace, working in tandem on the ball, using the shine and rough surface almost magically.
Waqar intimidated the batsmen with in-dipping yorkers and toe-crushers with banana swing. Wasim came over with his left-arm, skiddy action and nipped them out with length deliveries that moved in and out viciously. Neither of them gave anything away and almost always seemed like two violinists playing a symphony without a spoken word, matching each other note for note.