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Before the final stage, it’s getting top-sy turvy

India's established openers will have to find their touch in the final two ODIs against West Indies. Amol Karhadkar reports.Opening blues

india Updated: Dec 07, 2011 01:08 IST
Amol Karhadkar
Amol Karhadkar
Hindustan Times
Amol Karhadkar,Indore,indiavswestindies2011

Nine innings. 115 runs. Highest individual score 39.

These are the combined stats of India's top three in the ongoing five-match series against West Indies. And if you take out Parthiv Patel's 53 runs from his three outings, Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir have put on 62 runs together.

Anyway, a series at home against a team like the West Indies, which is not even remotely in the top flight of international cricket, is not at all the ideal preparation ahead of a tour to Australia.

But it seemed as if India's opening duo will find it difficult to extract what could possibly have been the sole gain going into the Australia series - confidence.

Rough patch
And considering that both the Delhi dazzlers had endured a rough patch - injury lay-off followed by a patchy Test series against the West Indies - they would be very keen to derive as much confidence as possible in the remaining two matches before heading to Australia.

Ahead of the current series, Gambhir struck two half-centuries in the home ODI series sweep against England but has flopped in the first three games against West Indies and also survived a injury scare after undergoing a back scan.

Despite the top three showing hardly any resistance in the first two matches of the series, India crossed the line in Cuttack and Visakhapatnam, thanks to Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli's strong performances helped by vital contributions lower down the order.

Tough target
But while chasing a more than respectable target of 261 in Ahmedabad on Monday night, the failure of top three hit India hard as despite the lower order's handy contribution, India eventually fell short by 16 runs. In fact, Sehwag and Gambhir's dismissals off successive balls sparked a batting collapse, and India were reduced to 105 for six in the 21st over.

Viru hopeful
Skipper Sehwag was irked when asked about the repeated failures of the top order over the last three games.

“Do we send the tailenders up? That is not possible. It is the job of the top-order to score runs and give good starts. We are trying to do that. It has been three matches, we have to concentrate on our batting and hopefully in future matches we can do it,” he said.

“Parthiv (Patel), Gautam, myself and (Suresh) Raina are not scoring runs. It's only Rohit and Virat who are scoring. So, we have to look at ourselves in the coming games, back ourselves and go and perform for team India.”

Huge anticipation
With all focus already on the upcoming Australia tour, it is but natural to feel some concern that all aspects of India's preparations should be in place before the Test series starts in Melbourne.

Indian batting thrives when the openers fire, and their inability to do so in England brought the middle-order under tremendous pressure with Rahul Dravid being the exception.

If the top order gets runs on Wednesday, not only can it seal the series against the West Indies, it will also augur well for the tough challenge Down Under.

First Published: Dec 06, 2011 23:36 IST