The most successful opening pairs for Indian cricket across all formats 

From Sunil Gavaskar to Virender Sehwag the openers have frequently been able to help the Indian Cricket Team win big games on their own.

Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly in a file photo (Image credits: Twitter)
By Niranjan Shivalkar | Feb 21, 2023 | 7 Min Read follow icon Follow Us

The top of the order has never lacked a match-winning batsman for the Indian cricket squad. From Sunil Gavaskar to Virender Sehwag the openers have frequently been able to help the Indian National Team win games on their own. Building a solid relationship with the batters on the other end and laying a solid foundation for the team, which the middle order can then build upon, is an important component of opening the innings. Hence, while having one strong opening batsman is beneficial for the team, having two strong opening batsmen is a blessing. 

In the shorter form of the game, the Indian Cricket Team has had a tonne of successful opening batters. Nonetheless, they have been fortunate enough to have a number of productive opening pairs over the more than 40-year history of ODI cricket who have contributed to the team’s success in a significant number of games, including two World Cups and two Champions Trophies. The longest format also has seen several prolific opening pairs since the inception of the format. Let’s have a look at the top three best opening pairs for India in each of the three formats. 


Some of the best openers in cricket history have come from India. Opening the innings was made special for the young spectators by legendary figures like Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar, Navjot Singh Sidhu, Sunil Gavaskar, and numerous others. In gully cricket, everyone wants to come out to bat first. The same assurance cannot be seen in international cricket, where the aspirations of over a billion people are placed in your hands. The comment that was just made emphasizes how much pressure the opening batters are under. They must give the squad a strong start in a format like T20. The Indian T20I team has had the most success with these three opening combinations over the years. 

Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan in a file Photo (Courtesy: BCCI/Twitter)

Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag

With their heroics in the powerplay overs, the Delhi boys Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag made life miserable for opening bowlers. They were essential to India’s victory at the 2007 T20 World Cup. The legendary duo had a run rate of 8.72 and amassed 545 runs in 17 T20Is, averaging 32.06.

KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma 

As KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma opened the T20I innings for India, they worked well together in the middle. In 34 games, they have scored 1412 runs, an astounding average of 41.53.

Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan 

The opening duo of Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan has served as the foundation of the Indian T20I team for many years. After starting the innings 52 times, the duo of Hitman and Gabbar has amassed 1,743 runs for the opening wicket. They have put together seven 50-plus stands and four 100-run partnerships for the first wicket.

Opening PairCareerInnsNORunsAvg
R G Sharma & S Dhawan2013-2019520174333.52
R G Sharma & K L Rahul2017-2022340141241.53
V Sehwag & G Gambhir2007-201217054532.06


In one-day internationals, India has been among the best teams. The Men in Blue have relished performing in the 50-over form, and their batters’ outstanding performances have been a major factor in their success. India has played on the international stage with many of the best batters in cricket history. In one-day international matches, India’s opening pair of batsmen are two of the best in the world right now: Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill. 

Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly in a file photo (Image credits: BCCI/Twitter)
Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly in a file photo (Image credits: BCCI/Twitter)

Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar

The most destructive opening partnership in Indian cricket history was forged by Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar, a pair that is best described as Master and Student. The bowlers experienced cold chills when they saw Sehwag and Tendulkar going into the ground. Tendulkar’s calm and aggressive stroke play complemented Sehwag’s style of batting, which was known for its explosive batting from the start. 

India’s World Cup winning and runner-up campaigns in 2003 and 2011 were primarily due to this partnership. During the span of nearly 10 years, Tendulkar and Sehwag opened the Indian batting 93 times, scoring 3919 runs at a respectable average of 45.56. These two superstars have shared 12 century-plus partnerships and 18 other 50+ stands in ODIs, with a top stand of 186 runs.

Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma

Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma, India’s current opening partnership in both limited-overs formats, have been the country’s opening batsmen for more than 4 years. Rohit Sharma’s move to the top of the order in one-day international cricket worked well for him, and he has since established himself as one of the game’s elite batsmen. The Indian cricket team’s crowning achievement has been his connection with Dhawan, which they formed at the 2013 Champions Trophy and has since helped the side win numerous games. 

Sharma and Dhawan have started the inning 75 times since they did it for the first time in 2013. They have scored 5148 runs in their 115 innings at a fantastic average of 44.90. The Sharma-Dhawan tandem is undoubtedly the strongest opening pair in the world right now with 12 century plus stands, 9 other 50+ partnerships, and their best stand of 178 to their credit. 

Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar

There was no question as to which couple would place at the top of this list. For almost ten years, the Indian cricket team’s opening pair of Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly served as the foundation of the team’s batting order. This opening partnership from India is not just the most successful opening pair in ODI cricket history, but also in all of cricket. These two seasoned campaigners accomplished everything for the Indian team, whether it was creating a solid foundation for the team or starting to hit after the first ball of the game. 

During the span of 11 years, Dada and The Master began the innings for India 136 times, scoring a whopping 6609 runs at an astonishing average of 49.32. For nearly 13 years, their 258-run partnership against Kenya was the finest opening partnership in the world. The titans of ODI cricket have solidified their spot as one of the best batting pairs in the history of ODI cricket thanks to their amazing individual records, 21 century plus centuries, and 23 other 50+ stands.

Opening PairCareerInnsNORunsAvg
S R Tendulkar & S C Ganguly1996-20071362660949.32
R G Sharma & S Dhawan2013-20221152514845.56
S R Tendulkar & V Sehwag2002-2012930391942.14


Since the longest format’s inception, a number of successful starting pairings have appeared. In the history of Test cricket, the West Indian greats Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes have scored the most runs as an opening pair. The present Australian team of Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer is the next, who, like Greenidge and Haynes helped the West Indies do forty years before, were instrumental in their nation dominating international cricket in the early twenty-first century. But today SportsLumo traces the three most successful Indian opening pairs in five-day cricket, with the name of a legend, featuring in three of them.

Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir in a file photo (Image credits: Twitter)
Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir in a file photo (Image credits: Twitter)

Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay

The third-most productive opening pairing for India in Test matches against the new ball is Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay, who have 1,757 runs combined. Given that they have competed in matches in South Africa, England, and Australia, they average 43.92 runs per partnership, which is extremely admirable.

When Dhawan and Vijay put on 289 runs in their debut innings against Australia in 2013, it was clear that a right-left combination was necessary to thwart the opposition’s intentions for the new ball. They only participated in two other century partnerships, but even so, they brought much-needed stability to the top of the hierarchy. Dhawan and Vijay have only played 41 innings combined in the six years since their outstanding debut, and both batters have occasionally struggled with form. 

Chetan Chauhan and Sunil Gavaskar

In 59 innings of Test cricket for India, Chetan Chauhan and Sunil Gavaskar scored 3,010 runs at an average of 52.81 runs per partnership. While they did share a steely will and an impenetrable defense, the two right-handers were very different batsmen. Despite not having nearly as much success for India as Gavaskar, Chauhan was a capable opponent for the first Little Master. 

Although Chauhan never scored a century in a Test match, he and Gavaskar did put up partnerships of up to ten centuries, many of which took place in difficult conditions in Pakistan, the West Indies, Australia, New Zealand, and England. At the Kennington Oval in 1979, they scored their first and only 200+ run stand, a resolute 213 against England.

Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir 

Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir, two of the greatest Indian batters in history, were just as lethal together as they were apart. Sehwag and Gambhir amassed 4,350 Test runs at a partnership average of 51.79 thanks to their aggressive batting styles and easygoing personalities. The right-left partnership scored enough runs over 87 innings to move up to fifth position within all Test opening combinations. 

Both posted a 218-run partnership over South Africa at Kanpur’s Green Park three games into their productive relationship, proving their superiority. Later, they will defeat Sri Lanka there with another 200+ run stand. Sehwag and Gambhir collaborated for 11 century partnerships in Test matches, more than any other Indian tandem in history. They are recognised for being close friends both on and off the field.

Opening PairCareerInnsNORunsAvg
V Sehwag & G Gambhir2004-2012873435051.79
C P S Chauhan & S M Gavaskar1973-1981592301052.81
M Vijay & S Dhawan2013-2018411175743.92

The all time best opening pairs for India across formats

Opening PairInnsRunsHighNOAVG10050
SC Ganguly, SR Tendulkar (1996-2007)1366609258249.322123
S Dhawan, RG Sharma (2013-2022)1155148210245.551815
V Sehwag, SR Tendulkar (2002-2012)933919182042.131218
G Gambhir, V Sehwag (2003-2013)381870201*150.5457
S Gavaskar, K Srikkanth (1981-1987)551680136030.54211

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