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Dhawan-Kohli, and the foundations that weren’t built on

Wisden India logo Wisden India 07-12-2016

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A 200-plus partnership in a One-Day International more often than not means a healthy total or a sparkling run-chase. But what if that feat results in the players involved in that association ending up on the losing side?

India, who have been in this situation on a couple of occasions recently, will know how much it hurts. Here are the top ten partnerships in ODI cricket that simply weren’t enough to ensure victory.

Herschelle Gibbs-Gary Kirsten (South Africa)

235 v India, Kochi, 2000

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It’s perhaps ironic that one of the biggest opening partnerships in one-dayers was buried under an avalanche of controversies within hours of being achieved. After Hansie Cronje elected to bat in the first ODI, Kirsten and Gibbs took centrestage by scoring chanceless centuries. Kirsten made 115 from 123 balls and Gibbs contributed 111 from 127 deliveries, guiding South Africa to 301 for 3. This was a time when 300 was considered way out of reach. The Indian chase began on a decent note but once they lost Saurav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid, hopes of a victory were all but out the window. What the South Africans didn’t anticipate was for the Indian middle order — Mohammad Azharuddin, Ajay Jadeja and Robin Singh — to click. Azhar and Robin made 42 each and Jadeja came up with a brilliant 92 to guide India past the finish line with two balls to spare.

Ijaz Ahmed-Saeed Anwar (Pakistan)

230 v India, Dhaka, 1998

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The stage was set for a cracker in a tense finale, India and Pakistan having made the best-of-three finals. India notched up a convincing win to kick things off and Pakistan came back with a smashing win in the second ODI. It was all or nothing now, and much to Pakistan’s relief, Anwar and Ijaz made quickfire centuries to guide them to 314 for 5 from 48 overs (two overs were deducted due to bad light). India were left with the task of scoring 315, the-then highest chase. Sachin Tendulkar got India off to a cracker with 41 from 26 balls, but India needed the resolve of Sourav Ganguly and Robin Singh to find themselves in a good enough position. The duo added a 179 at a healthy rate to set up what would go down as one of the best Indian chases. India found little support from its lower middle order, but a boundary from Hrishikesh Kanitkar with India needing three from two balls left meant a historic triumph for one team and a sensational double-century partnership in vain for the other.

Kevin O’Brien-William Porterfield (Ireland)

227 v Kenya, Nairobi, 2007

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The fourth-wicket stand between these two senior members of the Ireland side is to this day the biggest partnership for the country for any wicket. It’s unfortunate that it came against a Kenyan outfit with the likes of Nehemiah Odhiambo and Thomas Odoyo in fine fettle. Porterfield made 104 from 129 balls and O’Brien came up with a cracking 142 from 125 balls to carry Ireland to 284 for 4. Kenya had won the first low-scoring World Cricket League Division One tie against Bermuda and came up with a near-identical win against Netherlands. Until then, Kenya’s batting hadn’t been stretched, but not it was up against some big numbers. The top order came with some meaty hitting but it wasn’t going to be enough. That was until, Odoyo took things into his own hands. The burly batsman smashed an unbeaten 61 from 36 balls with five fours and a six, while Hiren Viraiya stood his ground with an unbeaten 5 from 11 balls to carry Kenya past the line.

Andrew Flintoff-Andrew Strauss (England)

226 v West Indies, Lord’s, 2004

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England needed this win to make it to the final of the NatWest series. The only thing that stood in their way was West Indies, and after Flintoff and Strauss got together, few expected the men from the Caribbean to make it to the summit tie. Flintoff sent West Indies’ young and brash bowling to the cleaners by smacking 123 from 104 balls with seven sixes and eight fours. That was complemented by Strauss’s 116-ball 100, and yet England managed only 285 for 7. Still, it was a decent enough total given England’s bowling prowess. Things started to go wrong for them when Chris Gayle got into the mood. He wasn’t as destructive as we now know him to be but 132 from 165 balls was still no mean feat. And then there was Ramnaresh Sarwan’s 78-ball 89, but if it wasn’t for Ricardo Powell’s 22-ball 33, West Indies wouldn’t have made it to 286 for 3 from 49.1 overs and to the final. West Indies eventually finished runners-up to New Zealand.

Mohammad Hafeez-Nasir Jamshed (Pakistan)

224 v India, Dhaka, 2012

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India had lost their previous tie against Bangladesh and were under threat of crashing out of the Asia Cup. They needed to come up with a strong win against Pakistan and then hope for Bangladesh to lose against Sri Lanka in order to make it to the final. The chances of the first of those two scenarios playing out seemed far-fetched after Pakistan made 329 for 6 on winning the toss. The reason for Pakistan’s success with the bat was the unrelenting partnership between Hafeez and Nasir Jamshed at the top of the order. Hafeez’s 105 and Nasir’s 112 meant Pakistan had realised 224 for the opening wicket before Umar Akmal (28) and Younis Khan (52) came up with some heavy hitting to carry them to a daunting total. The odds were stacked against India, even more so after Gautam Gambhir was dismissed off the second ball of the Indian innings. Sachin Tendulkar and Kohli steadied the response by adding 133 for the second wicket and then Kohli teamed up with Rohit Sharma to add 172 for the third wicket. By the time Kohli was dismissed, he had made 183 from 148 balls and had carried the team to 318. Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni applied the finishing touches. Much to India’s dismay, Bangladesh won against Sri Lanka a couple of days later to face Pakistan in the final.

Mohammad Azharuddin-Ajay Jadeja (India)

223 v Sri Lanka, Colombo, 1997

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Typically, Sri Lanka got off to a flier with Sanath Jayasuriya smashing 73 from 52 balls and Marvin Atapattu providing the side with stability. By the time their alliance came to an end, Sri Lanka had 91 runs on board and then there was a 108-run stand between Atapattu and Roshan Mahanama (53). Then, 80 more runs were realised between the opener and Aravinda de Silva. The defending world champions had put up 302 for 4 from 50 overs. India were no strangers to big chases but this one got off to a rickety start as they lost their top four with just 64 runs on board. Mohammad Azharuddin and Ajay Jadeja had been in these situations enough before to realise what was needed at the stage. Slowly, the duo began to tick the runs off. By the time Jadeja was caught and bowled by Chaminda Vaas, he had made 119, his fifth-wicket alliance with the former captain had yielded 223 runs and India were 294 for 6. Azhruddin remained unshaken at 111 but the story was quite different at the other end as Nayan Mongia ran himself out and Rajesh Chauhan was dismissed by Jayasuriya. Eventually, India finished a couple of runs short of the target, and subsequently lost the four-match series 0-3.

VVS Laxman-Yuvraj Singh (India)

213 v Australia, Sydney, 2004

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It was a tri-series with Zimbabwe as the third side, but it was all about the India-Australia rivalry and the seventh game of the series was the closest of the lot. Despite the threat of rain, India opted to bat first and were in a bit of a spot as they lost three wickets for 80 before Laxman and Yuvraj got into the act. While Laxman caressed his way to a 130-ball 106, Yuvraj pulled off the big strokes as he raced to 139 from 122 to carry India to a solid 296. Australia kicked things off with Adam Gilchrist looking in prime form but play was stopped in the tenth over and eventually the total was revised to 225 from 34 overs. Gilchrist liked this equation better and went after India’s bowling with fire, carting them to all corners en route to 95 from 72 balls with 14 fours and a six. Ricky Ponting wasn’t his fluent best but his 42 and a crucial 21 from Michael Clarke ensured Australia crossed the line with one ball and two wickets to spare.

David Boon-Geoff Marsh (Australia)

212 v India, Jaipur, 1986

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It was still early days as far as one-day cricket was concerned and a total close to 250 then was considered pretty effective. So when Marsh and Boon got together and cruised to 212 runs for the opening wicket, India must have had their hearts in their mouths. Australia were only able to add 38 runs following the end of that alliance but 250 seemed like a good score. But as soon as Krishnamachari Srikkanth and Sunil Gavaskar took guard, it was clear that India were in no mood to muck around. Gavaskar was eventually out for 26 but Srikkanth was typically no-nonsense and smashed his way to a 104-ball 102. If that wasn’t enough, Raman Lamba’s 53-ball 64 well and truly sealed the deal for the Indians who completed formalities in the 41st over with seven wickets in hand.

Shikhar Dhawan-Virat Kohli (India)

212 v Australia, Canberra, 2016

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Having witnessed India squander the advantage despite putting yo 300-plus runs in the first two ties was disappointing, but this must have hurt more not only because India had already lost the series 0-3. The fourth ODI saw Australia amass a massive 348 on the back of a brilliant century from Aaron Finch and 93 from David Warner. The duo added 187 for the opening wicket, forming the base for a daunting Australian total. India got off to a good start with the Rohit Sharma-Shikhar Dhawan alliance contributing 65, but the biggest Indian partnership of the series came when Dhawan linked up with Kohli. Dhawan made 126 and Kohli 106 and guided India to 277 by the 38th over. It seemed like a cinch from there, but India’s middle order made a mess of things once again as they were bowled out for 323 from 49.2 overs.

Virat Kohli-Rohit Sharma (India)

207 v Australia, Perth, 2016

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The game will be remembered for a spectacular 171 from Rohit but perhaps not for the 207-run stand these two shared for the second wicket. After losing Dhawan early in the opening ODI, India got they stability they were looking for through Rohit and Kohli. While Rohit was sending everything to the fence, Kohli was content rotating strike and eventually India finished on 309 for 3. Many assumed it would be enough but once Steven Smith and George Bailey got into their groove, the doubts began to creep in. Smith cruised to 149 from 135 balls and Bailey made 112 as the duo added 242 for the third wicket at a healthy pace to take Australia within striking distance. Mitchell Marsh and James Faulkner completed the formalities with four balls left in the innings.

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