The opening partnership has been a thorn in the flesh of Team India for a while, especially overseas. This is the main reason why India has struggled to stamp their authority despite having a fairly balanced team for the last few years. In the context, it goes without saying that the opening stand of 126 put up by Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul augurs well for the team in the future foreign sojourns as this is the second successive time in the ongoing series that the pair has put up a substantial opening partnership. The first wicket stand also happens to be the first instance since 2010 that India’s openers have given a 100 plus total outside Asia. This aspect clearly defines the opening woes of the team in the last 10 years especially when they go abroad. Now, let us look at some of the excellent opening stands put up by the Indian batsmen outside the comforts of their home conditions.
Finest opening partnerships by Indian batters outside their country
Merchant-Ali – 190 (Old Trafford/ 1936)
This happened eons ago when India was under the grip of the British empire. The reason for featuring the match is simply to highlight that the Test is also famous for ratcheting up 588 runs in a single day and the record is still intact. Out of the 588 runs, England scored 398 and were in the driver’s seat but Vijay Merchant and Syed Mushtaq Ali spoiled their party with an opening stand of 190 runs. The alliance between Merchant and Ali helped India eke out a draw after a wobbly start.
Sehwag-Dravid – 410 (Lahore/ 2006)
Any achievement against Pakistan is a matter of celebration for all Indians across the world but what makes this feat extra special is the fact that the opening stand was stitched together on the arch rival’s soil. The match ended in a tame draw but not before tiring out Pakistan bowlers, comprising Shoaib Akhtar, Mohammed Sami, Danish Kaneria etc. Batting first Pakistan notched up a humongous 679/ 7 declared, chiefly due to centuries by Younis Khan (199) and Mohammed Yousuf (173). Their joy was short-lived as Indian opening pair Virender Sehwag (254) and Rahul Dravid (128) sent Pak bowlers on a leather hunt with an opening partnership of 410. This rain-marred drawn Test is primarily known for the Herculean efforts of Viru and Dravid.
Dhawan-Vijay – 283 (Fatullah/ 2015)
The sole Test in Bangladesh is yet again a rain-affected match ending in a draw. But this is important from an Indian perspective as the occasion is one of the rarest where India’s opening partnership flourished outside the home country. Batting first, the Indian opening pair of Shikhar Dhawan (173) and Murali Vijay (150) dictated the terms to the Bangladesh bowlers as they strung together an opening partnership of 283. Both looked good for major milestones but perished trying to score some quick runs. Dhawan was at his brutal best in the innings as he hit 23 times to the fence to notch up one of his career’s best tons.
P.S: A Notable Omission
There was also an opening stand of 137 runs between Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir at Centurion in South Africa (2010). But it came in a losing cause as Proteas crushed India by an innings and 25 runs. Hence, it was omitted from the list of finest opening partnerships.