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India vs England Tests 2021 – How India’s openers changed course of series

India’s opening pair in Test cricket is always the talk of the town, many times due to failures, however, things changed in the Test series against England in 2021 played in England.

India vs England 2021: Rohit Sharma (368), KL Rahul (315) are the second and third highest run-scorer of the India-England series 2021. India leading series by 2-1
Rohit Sharma (368), KL Rahul (315) are the second and third highest run-scorer of the Series. (Photo: ©Insidesport)

India’s opening duo is now being discussed and dissected for their wonderful performance in this Test series. Among all Indian players, only the openers cracked centuries in the 2021 edition of Pataudi Trophy.


So, let us have a statistical review of Indian openers’ performance and its impact on the series. The duo of KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma always sought a disciplined batting approach through the series and tried to leave as many deliveries as possible outside off-stump. Both openers faced over 700 balls in this series. Only England skipper Joe Root faced more deliveries than Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul.


Highest Balls faced by Batsmen Pataudi Series 2021

India’s openers stay put in the middle

As we can gauge from the above chart, Rohit Sharma faced 866 deliveries in the series while his partner KL Rahul faced 735 deliveries. In comparison, India’s dependable batsmen Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli have coped 614 and 469 balls in these four Tests.


This disciplined approach of the openers helped the middle order bats including Kohli and Pujara as the red ball goes soft with time and they were allowed to play in slightly easy conditions after openers put up significant partnerships.


It also led to fatigue for England pacers which helped free-flowing batsmen like Rishabh Pant and Ravindra Jadeja to score easily.


Percentage of Deliveries faced by Indian batsmen in Pataudi Series 2021

India’s openers faced 39 per cent deliveries in series against England

One could gauge from the above chart that India’s openers, Rohit and KL Rahul, played around 39 per cent of the deliveries faced by their team in this Test series. Their method of leaving several deliveries and staying put on the wicket for longer times made conditions easy for the next batsmen in the line-up.


Also, it was morale-boosting for India’s batsmen to watch openers playing confidently against legendary England pacer James Anderson and others including Ollie Robinson, who was the leading wicket-taker in the series.


Read More: Makings of a Test batsman - Rohit Sharma’s zeal to fit in as a quintessential long format opener


Highest Run Scorer in Pataudi Series 2021

Percentage of Run scored by Indian Batsmen in Pataudi Series 2021

Rohit-Rahul scored 36 per cent of runs for India

Also, these two players are the highest run-scorers for India in the series. Only Joe Root scored more runs than them in this campaign. As we can see in the above chart, Root amassed 564 runs in the series whereas Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul piled up 368 and 315 runs respectively. They scored a total of 36 per cent of runs for India.


It is an astonishing achievement considering opening is the toughest job for batsmen in English conditions. Rohit and Rahul literally carried India on their shoulders with their phenomenal batting when the middle-order was struggling to make big runs. Both openers scored three fifty-plus scores in the campaign against the pace arsenal of England headed by James Anderson.


No other India batsmen could score three fifty-plus scores, Also, no other India batsman apart from the openers could strike any hundred in the series, whereas India’s openers cracked two centuries in this campaign.


Most Successful Partnership in Pataudi Series 2021

Rohit-Rahul combined to produce 421 runs at the top for India

If we have a look at the most successful partnerships in this series, then obviously the pair of Rahul and Rohit topped the chart with 421 runs in just eight innings studded with two fifty-plus and one-century partnerships.


The second pair in the table scored more than 100 runs less than the opening duo of India. Also, the pair of Pujara and Rohit took the third spot in the table with 256 runs in just five innings with the highest average among all of them - 66.25. This informs one about the impact created by Rohit on this campaign.


Performance of Indian Openers and its impact on Results in Pataudi Trophy 2021

As one could gauge from the above table, when India’s openers scored more than 200 runs in any Test, the visitors defeated the hosts in those matches. In the second Test at Lord’s, Rahul and Rohit scored a total of 238 runs for India. It helped India to register totals like 364 and 298/8d in the Test and on the last day of the match, spirited performance by India’s pace battery helped them to deliver a knockout punch against England, defeating them by a margin of 155 runs.


In the fourth Test at the Kennington Oval, India’s openers scored 201 runs to help their team to record huge totals which, resulted in a win for India over Root and company. Both Rahul and Rohit racked up a total of 158 runs in the first Test of the tour at Trent Bridge but India couldn’t win the match due to interference of rain on the last day of the Test.


Only in the third Test at Headingley, India’s opening pair failed to score more than a hundred runs (86) which led to an embarrassing defeat for the visitors by an innings and 76 runs.


This signifies the importance of the performance of India’s openers and their impact on Test results which eventually led to an unassailable lead of 2-1 for the visitors over the hosts.


Read More: Rohit Sharma second-fastest opener to 11,000 runs in international cricket after Tendulkar


Performance of Indian Opening Pair in last four test tours of India to England

If we compare the performance of Indian openers as a pair to the previous three tours of India to England, we found out that the current opening pair scored 421 runs together in this tour while openers in the previous three tours couldn’t even add 200 runs for the first wicket.


In 2014 opening combination of Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay stitched only 176 runs with a mediocre average of 29 while Indian openers in the 2018 England tour, opening duo of Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul made only 168 as a pair with a meagre average of 28. In the 2011 test tour to England, Indian openers changed every match so they could not make any impact on the test tour and it led to a humiliating whitewash of the Indian team.


Also, the current opening pair played over 150 overs (164 overs) in this campaign while openers on the previous two tours could not even play 60 overs each in the whole series which led to heavy defeats of the Indian team by 3-1 and 4-1 in 2014 and 2018 respectively.


However, due to the stupendous performance of the duo of Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul in the Pataudi Trophy in 2021, India took an invincible lead of 2-1 over England.


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