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HindustanTimes Tue,16 Sep 2014
Looking to end opening blues in Durban
Khurram Habib , Hindustan Times
New Delhi, December 26, 2013
First Published: 00:05 IST(26/12/2013)
Last Updated: 00:09 IST(26/12/2013)

Everything seems to be going beyond expectations for India as per their recent standards abroad. When the opening batting combination of Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay put on 17 and 23 in the first Test, even those were better than the average opening partnership abroad in recent times.

Since January 2011 and before the Johannesburg Test, the average opening partnership for India was 15.91 from the 24 times India have batted abroad!

But it also points to the fact that despite the chopping and changing the opening pair remains a worry, at least outside the subcontinent. India have tried Abhinav Mukund, Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag and Rahul Dravid but none of them flourished abroad in that period. India now have a young combination in Dhawan and Vijay.

Although not expected to set things on fire abroad immediately, they haven't had a great partnership and that seemingly has put a bit of pressure on Chetehwar Pujara, who has had to play the additional role of anchoring one end.

However, it is unlikely that the team will fret just yet. Captain MS Dhoni has already hinted that the team is in a transition stage and everyone needs to be given enough opportunities.

Shikhar, who had said that these wickets will suit his style and is expected to play shots on these tracks, has gone for them at the cost of his wicket while an over-cautious Vijay, although allowing the pressure build for a while, has done well to see off the new ball.

Shikhar, in particular, has been working a lot at the nets over the past couple of days, taking throw-downs and asking the team video analyst to have a look at his batting. On Tuesday, Shikhar was the first to enter the nets and one of the last to leave.

While he is being compared to Sehwag, he hasn't really played a decisive role yet after his remarkable Test debut at Mohali where he scored 185. His performance in ODIs has been brilliant but with things going well for India and the wicket looking more Indian, it could just be time for the opening combine to fire.


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