The best opening acts in ODIs, and Gilchrist in finals
The current Australian ODI team is great for a number of reasons, not least the presence of an outstanding opening pair. Matthew Hayden set the World Cup alight with his spectacular power-hitting, striking the maximum number of boundaries (69 fours and 18 sixes) in a single edition of the tournament and, while his partner was silent through most of the competition, he came to life when it mattered most, with an astonishing 149 in the final. That innings by Adam Gilchrist, and the 172-run stand for the first wicket, was the difference between the two teams in the title clash.
Hayden and Gilchrist are fast closing in on some of the all-time records for opening pairs in one-day internationals: they are just 39 runs short of becoming only the third pair to get to 5000 partnership runs for the first wicket, joining Ganguly-Tendulkar and Greenidge-Haynes. And, as the table below shows, Hayden and Gilchrist are up there in terms of all the numbers - that stand in the final lifted their average partnership beyond 50, putting them next only to the West Indian pair in terms of averages. Their 16 century stands equal Ganguly and Tendulkar's record, while their 41 fifty-plus stands are the most by any opening pair and two clear of Greenidge and Haynes. Gilchrist had another useful association with Mark Waugh before Hayden came along but, as the table below shows, this was clearly a case of a left-left combination working better than a right-left one.
|Gilchrist-M Waugh||93||3853||41.43||8/ 20|
Like most of the top opening pairs, Hayden and Gilchrist have also saved their best for the big occasions - they average more than 64 in World Cups, with 12 fifty-plus stands in 20 innings. Among pairs that have scored at least 400 World Cup runs, only Greenidge and Haynes have a lower average in the World Cup.
|Pair||World Cup inngs, runs||Average||All ODI innings, runs||Average||Diff in ave|
|Gibbs-Kirsten||12/ 774||77.40||66/ 2838||46.52||30.88|
|Boon-Marsh||10, 592||59.20||88, 3523||40.03||19.17|
|Gilchrist-Hayden||20/ 1220||64.21||100/ 4961||51.14||13.07|
|Sehwag-Tendulkar||9/ 498||55.33||57, 2459||43.14||12.19|
|Gavaskar-Srikkanth||13, 469||36.07||55, 1680||30.54||5.53|
|Greenidge-Haynes||11, 509||46.27||102, 5150||52.55||-6.28|
Gilchrist and Hayden have also been one of the strongest links in the Australian line-up, performing consistently whether in victory or in defeat. They average 55.49 in wins - only slightly above their overall average - and nearly 40 in losses. Among the pairs to have scored at least 500 partnership runs in defeats, only Boon and Marsh average more, scoring 41.89 runs per innings in the 29 times they've opened in ODIs Australia have lost. As the table below shows, Hayden and Gilchrist have done much better in defeats than the two other pairs who've made more than 5000 runs.
|Pair||Wins - inng, runs||Average||Losses - inng, runs||Average||Diff in ave|
|Gilchrist-Hayden||78, 4162||55.49||17, 671||39.47||16.02|
|Ganguly-Tendulkar||54, 3561||68.48||58, 1956||33.72||34.76|
|Greenidge-Haynes||71, 4343||63.86||29, 745||25.68||38.18|
Saving the best for last
Gilchrist's stunning knock in the final turned around what had been a disappointing tournament with the bat for him till then. The World Cup final has never failed to inspire the batsman in him - he has scored two fifties and a hundred in three tries - but he hasn't always replicated that kind of form in other finals: in 31 such games, he has nine fifty-plus scores, of which three were in successive World Cup finals; exclude that, and it's just six from 28, that's one in nearly five finals.
The table below lists the best performers in finals of ODI tournaments. The table is headed by another top-order left-hander, but one who was far more sedate and measured. Gilchrist's average doesn't stand out, but the next column does - he's the only one from the entire lot of the 18 batsmen with more than 750 runs in finals, to score at a strike rate of more than 100. Obviously, the pressures of playing the big game have done nothing to slow him down. If anything, it's made him up the ante even further.
|Batsman||Innings||Runs||Average||Strike rate||100s/ 50s|
|Gary Kirsten||20||1019||67.93||74.16||3/ 7|
|Viv Richards||18||836||55.73||84.78||1/ 9|
|Dean Jones||30||1064||48.36||73.12||1/ 8|
|Sachin Tendulkar||36||1487||47.96||86.30||4/ 9|
|Aravinda de Silva||24||930||44.28||88.06||2/ 6|
|Ricky Ponting||38||1342||41.93||82.83||2/ 7|
|Sanath Jayasuriya||36||1452||41.98||96.99||1/ 13|
|Marvan Atapattu||26||969||40.37||70.01||2/ 6|
|Adam Gilchrist||31||1154||39.79||102.76||3/ 6|
|David Boon||22||751||39.52||58.67||0/ 4|
What's also interesting is Gilchrist's pattern of scoring in finals since the 2003 World Cups. In the last four years, during which he has played in 13 finals, he has been on an all-or-nothing mode - he has nine scores of less than 30, only twice has he made it past 40, but on each occasion he made it count, going on to get a century.
S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo.