In modern day cricket, wins are built on solid batting foundations at the top of the order. It’s no wonder that the best teams in the last few decades had batsmen who could plunder opposition attacks at will and take the game away from them. Be it the dominant Australian Team of the 1990s and 2000s or the new-age Indian team of this millennium, the fulcrums of their batting were indomitable. Here we have a look at the ten most formidable pairs of batsmen that cricket has ever seen.
Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman (India)
When it comes to steadying an innings after a collapse, The Wall and VVS were special by a distance. They’ve been involved in two 300+ stands, coincidentally both against Australia. Their 376 runs stand at the Eden Gardens in 2001 ranks among the best partnerships in cricket of all time and it was instrumental in changing the face of Indian cricket. They have by far been the most consistent 5th wicket pair in the last few decades.
9. Bob Simpson and Bill Lawry (Australia)
3596 runs in 62 innings at an average of 60.94
The golden Australian opening pair from the 60s, they played an instrumental role in consolidating the Australian team after a period of lull. They are mainly known for their 382 run opening stand against West Indies at Bridgetown in 1965-66. They were equally prolific in both home and away conditions, but lower tests in the era meant they couldn’t increase their tally. Both later captained Australia.
Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag (India)
4412 runs in 87 innings at an average of 52.52
After trying out numerous combinations at the top of the order in the 2000s, India finally settled for Gambhir and Sehwag on the back of some consistent performances. A dangerous left-hand right-hand combination, Sehwag’s merciless hitting complemented Gambhir’s caution and strokeplay With the Fab Four in the twilight of their careers, Sehwag and Gambhir provided the perfect foundation at the top of the order. Their best partnership was against Sri Lanka at Kanpur in 2009 where they hit 233 runs. They guided India to the top of the test rankings in 2009.
Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer (Australia)
6081 runs in 122 innings at an average of 51.53
A left-handed opening pair, Hayden and Langer were a part of the dominant Australian team of the late 1990s and 2000s. Another pair that mixed aggression with caution, they were responsible for the massive totals that Australia amassed. They also top the list of the double century stands by a pair, with a mind-boggling six double century partnerships.
Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly (India)
4173 runs in 71 innings at an average of 61.36
Tendulkar and Ganguly are known equally for their on-field exploits as they are for their camaraderie. Coming in after the fall of Dravid and with Laxman to follow, they consolidated the innings. Their highest stand is 281 vs New Zealand at Ahmedabad in 1999, when Sachin hit his first double hundred. However, they rank as probably the best opening pairs in ODI’s of all time, with 6609 runs in 136 innings at an average of 49.32! They have been involved in 26 century stands for the opening wicket in ODI’s, which is quite a record by a margin.
Matthew Hayden and Ricky Ponting (Australia)
4765 runs in 76 innings at an average of 67.11
Another dominant combination in the Australian side, they have the highest average for any pair in this list. They regularly bullied opposition attacks into submission. Their best stand was 272 against England at Brisbane is 2003-03, in a match where Hayden made 197 and Ponting 123. They were a regular feature in the ODI side too, 3514 runs in 73 innings at an average of 52.48 is a testament to their contribution.
Sanath Jayasuriya and Marvan Atapattu (Sri Lanka)
4533 runs in 122 innings at an average of 39.41
The average might look a little misleading here, but the fright Jayasuriya and Atapattu bought to opposition bowlers was unmistakable. A left-hander who could fire any moment, Jayasuriya smashed bowlers all round the park while Atapattu could score at a brisk pace too. They marshalled the Sri Lankan team for a decade after their win in the 1996 World Cup. Jayasuriya revolutionised batting in ODI’s with his hard-hitting exploits and they were a force to reckon with, their aggregate being 5462 runs in 144 innings.
Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes (West Indies)
6482 runs in 148 innings at an average of 47.31
The pair was a part of the team which had Sir Viv Richards and the most feared bowling attack of all time. Yet they carved out a niche for themselves with a massive tally at the top of the order. They’ve registered a record 42 50+ opening stands, which is a record. They’ve also converted 16 of these to century stands, which is another record for the most century stands by an opening pair. Needless to say, the West Indian team of the 80s wouldn’t have been the same without them.
Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar (India)
6920 runs in 143 innings at an average of 50.51
The most famous pair by a margin, The Wall and The Little Master combined together more often than not to steer the team to safety. Though their best partnership is 249, they have put together 20-century partnerships, which is a record unlikely to be broken in the near future. Both the batsmen together have scored about 29000 runs in the long format and one-fourth of them were scored in tandem with each other. They were also prolific in ODI’s as well, with 4117 runs in 98 innings at an average of 44.26. The 331 they put on for the second wicket against New Zealand in 1999 is the second highest partnership in ODI’s of all time.
Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara (Sri Lanka)
6554 runs in 120 innings at an average of 56.50
Sangakkara and Jayawardene were as important to Sri Lanka as Tendulkar and Dravid were to India. Another pair of legends to hold the willow, they hit their way into the record books with a 624 run partnership against South Africa at Colombo in 2006. Sangakkara was out for 287 while Jayawardene scored 374. They rank second in both the Test and ODI charts for the most runs by a pair. Both of them have amassed around 12000 runs individually in tests, and their batting together in T20I’s has enabled them to cross Dravid and Tendulkar as the pair with the most runs scored across all formats. Theirs is another record which will stand the test of time.