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Waiting for the opening salvo

When India played at the Oval on their previous tour in 2007, they amassed 664 and went on to dominate the drawn game. Four years down the line, the nucleus of the batting line-up is the same but they have yet to cross 300 in six innings.

cricket Updated: Aug 17, 2011 23:32 IST
Sanjjeev Karan Samyal
Amit-Mishra-bowls-against-England-on-the-third-day-of-the-third-Test-match-at-the-Edgbaston-Cricket-Ground-Birmingham
Amit-Mishra-bowls-against-England-on-the-third-day-of-the-third-Test-match-at-the-Edgbaston-Cricket-Ground-Birmingham

When India played at the Oval on their previous tour in 2007, they amassed 664 and went on to dominate the drawn game. Four years down the line, the nucleus of the batting line-up is the same but they have yet to cross 300 in six innings.

On most times the batting has done well, the platform has been laid by the openers. In 2007, when India won the series 1-0, Wasim Jaffer and Dinesh Karthik gave a start of 62 at Oval. Karthik made 91 and Jaffer 35. In the second Test win at Trent Bridge, the pair had partnerships of 147 and 47.

The best the openers have achieved so far is the 63-run partnership between Gautam Gambhir and Abhinav Mukund in the first innings of the first Test. After that it has been a sequence of 19, 0, 6, 8 and 3.

“We are one side which relies heavily on the opening pair. Whenever we have got off to a good start, the middle and the lower middle-order have really capitalised on it. (But) I don't want to put any extra pressure on the openers,” said skipper MS Dhoni, hopeful of a strong response from Gambhir and Virender Sehwag.

A lot was expected of Sehwag when he made his return, but he got a king pair and India were routed. He was criticised for playing a loose drive in the second innings, but Dhoni backed his aggression. “What’s important is he still backs himself to play those shots and that's one thing that will definitely help us win more games.”

Dhoni believes the only way to put pressure on England is by putting runs on the board. “The priority will be to put runs on the board and put the pressure back on the opposition.”