The failure of their openers is one reason why India haven't dominated Australia despite the visiting team's resources getting steadily depleted during in the ongoing ODI series. Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag are capable of tearing apart any attack in Indian conditions. Problem is, they couldn't really do it in the first four matches.
India's best opening partnership has yielded a mere 40, in the fourth game in Mohali on a good batting surface. Pitches in all four games barring the third were good for them and still, the start pundits and fans expect has eluded India. It forced contrasting reactions from the captains.
“Reasonably satisfied,” was what Ricky Ponting said when asked whether he had reason to smile with the success Australia achieved against India's deadly duo. MS Dhoni on the other hand is living in hope that a big one from his openers is due anytime.
In four matches, the only opening stand from either side worth more than 50 featured Shane Watson and Ponting, in New Delhi. There have been just two 50-plus scores from openers of the two teams, by Ponting and Tim Paine. The performance of the Indian openers looks paler once two 40-plus contributions from Watson are taken into account.
“Sehwag has got them off to flying starts a couple of times but we have kept Sachin in check. His scoring rate hasn't been too extravagant, if you like that,” said Ponting, praising Peter Siddle, who, however, won't be seen in action anymore.
Dhoni didn't sound overtly worried, maybe with valid reasons. “We're not getting big opening partnerships, but they are getting starts. They look in good nick, so it's not really worrying now. For all you know, all of sudden there will be a big innings from one of the openers.” This is not completely unjustified because Tendulkar looked good in the last two games. He was run out in the third and got a bad decision in the fourth.
The same can't be said of Sehwag who seems bent on hitting every ball, but that's how he plays. With the journey that started on October 25 approaching the homestretch, it's important for India that their openers start doing what they are dreaded for. Conditions will continue to be favourable; it's just a question of whether they can take advantage of them.
Meanwhile, India have retained the same squad for the remaining three matches.