Another one-day international, another top-order masterclass by India saw them cruise to a big win against West Indies in Guwahati on Sunday. Rohit Sharma and captain Virat Kohli hit centuries to lead India’s eight-wicket demolition of West Indies as they made a target of 323 look like a walk in the park.
Kohli, who made 140, and Sharma, who remained unbeaten on 152, put on 246 runs for the second wicket as the hosts romped home with 47 balls to spare.
The effort from Kohli and Sharma easily overshadowed a dominant 106 by West Indies batsman Shermon Hetmyer in his team’s 322/8 after being put into bat first.
This Indian team has been exceptional in ODI cricket over the last two years and that’s largely down to how good the top three have been with the bat. Shikhar Dhawan might have been dismissed in just the second over of the innings, after he was bowled by debutant fast bowler Oshane Thomas, but the other two stepped up on the night.
Kohli took charge with Sharma, who was happy playing second fiddle to his in-form captain, as the duo put on India’s biggest ODI stand against West Indies for any wicket. The skipper built on his quickfire fifty to get his 36th ODI ton in just 88 deliveries, hitting Kemar Roach for a boundary to make the three-figure mark amid loud cheers from a packed home crowd. Sharma, who was relatively quiet till his captain’s 100, soon got cracking and reached his century with a boundary off spinner Ashley Nurse.
It was just another example of India’s top order doing the heavy-lifting in an ODI.
Partnerships for India since Jan 2017
|Partners||Inns||Runs (100s / 50s)||Average / RPO|
|Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma||30||1441 (5/4)||48.03 / 5.57|
|Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma||13||1364 (6/2)||113.66 / 6.61|
|Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli||14||998 (4/4)||83.16 / 6.11|
According to ESPNCricinfo, the Rohit-Dhawan-Kohli trio has 18 150-plus stands in ODIs. In comparison the Matthew Hayden- Adam Gilchrist- Ricky Ponting trio managed seven between them. While the run-scoring patterns have changed significantly over time, this still is a measure of how dominant the Indian trio have been.
In fact, since Jan 2017, no other country boasts of such a prolific top three.
1st and 2nd wicket partnerships since Jan 2017
|Team||No of partnerships||Runs (100s / 50s)||Average per partnership|
|South Africa||65||3044 (6/16)||47.56|
|Hong Kong||20||798 (2/3)||39.9|
|New Zealand||60||2171 (3/16)||36.18|
|Sri Lanka||87||3043 (7/15)||35.38|
|West Indies||60||1566 (1/9)||26.1|
The Kohli impact
The numbers become even more staggering when you look at just the second-wicket partnership. This is largely due to Virat Kohli’s sublime form in the 50-over format in the last 22 months and more. Incidentally, the 246-run stand between Kohli and Sharma was the fifth between the duo and no other pair in ODI history has more. On the occasions that one of the openers fail for India, the other opener invariably puts on a massive partnership with Kohli at No 3.
Second wicket stands in ODIs since Jan 2017
|Team||No. of partnerships||Runs (100s/50s)||Ave|
|New Zealand||30||1280 (2/10)||42.66|
|South Africa||32||1267 (3/7)||39.59|
|Hong Kong||10||327 (1/2)||32.7|
|Sri Lanka||43||1374 (4/6)||31.95|
|West Indies||30||806 (1/5)||26.86|
You only have to look at the numbers in 2018 to understand how good India’s top three have been.
Most ODI runs in 2018
|Player||Inns||Runs (100s / 50s)||Ave|
|Jonny Bairstow (ENG)||22||1025 (4/2)||46.59|
|Joe Root (ENG)||23||936 (3/5)||62.40|
|Jason Roy (ENG)||21||890 (3/1)||42.38|
|Virat Kohli (INDIA)||10||889 (4/3)||127.00|
|Rohit Sharma (INDIA)||15||793 (4/2)||72.09|
|Shikhar Dhawan (INDIA)||15||789 (3/2)||56.35|
|Eoin Morgan (ENG)||22||756 (0/7)||42.00|
|Brendan Taylor (ZIM)||19||748 (2/2)||39.36|
|Rahmat Shah (AFG)||19||722 (1/6)||38.00|
|Fakhar Zaman (PAK)||14||721 (2/4)||72.10|
|Jos Buttler (ENG)||17||671 (2/4)||55.91|
|Imam-ul-Haq (PAK)||11||622 (3/3)||62.20|
|Mohammad Shahzad (AFG)||18||607 (1/4)||35.70|
|Mushfiqur Rahim (BDESH)||14||569 (1/3)||43.76|
|Hamilton Masakadza (ZIM)||24||565 (0/3)||23.54|
While Bairstow, Roy and Root top the run-scoring charts they have played more ODIs than each of the Indian top three, with Kohli nearing 1,000 runs after just 10 innings. No wonder then that England and India are the teams to beat in the 50-over format in world cricket right now.
One of the issues that this Indian ODI team is facing in the lead-up to the World Cup is cricket’s worst-kept secret — a struggling middle order. The No 4 merry-go-round has another entrant now in Ambati Rayudu as the think-tank go about getting some solidity in the batting line-up.
As a corollary to the middle order’s struggles, this problem has its roots in how dominant the top order has been. India’s first two partnerships have accounted for more than 50% of the runs scored since the start of 2017. The next best is England — at less than 40%.
Contribution of the top order to team's total
|Team||Runs scored (opening & 2nd wicket)||Overall runs scored||Percentage contribution|
The middle order will continue to be a concern for India in the near future but if the top three remain in such form, this team will remain a juggernaut that will be difficult to stop.
All statistics courtesy ESPNCricinfo’s Statsguru