Aakash Chopra rates Latham and Blundell as best opening pair in Test cricket

Written by Rohit Pawar

Cricketer-turned-commentator Aakash Chopra has come up with stats to rank and talk about the active opening batting pairs in the world of Test cricket. Aakash Chopra also took the opportunity to remember the opening greats of the longest format like Matthew Hayden-Justin Lunger and Gautam Gambhir-Virender Sehwag, who were exceptional at negating the swinging balls.

“There was a time when we had very good opening partnerships in World cricket like Gautam Gambhir-Virender Sehwag, Matthew Hayden-Justin Langer, Gordon Greenidge-Desmond Haynes, Alastair Cook-Andrew Strauss and Graeme Smith-Herschelle Gibbs.

“But today’s openers are not able to deal with the swinging ball. The new ball is repeated attacking you and you have no answer. That is why we are looking at the opening pairs across the world,” Aakash Chopra said in his introductory statement.

Aakash Chopra, an opener himself in his playing days, called England’s new opening batting pair of Rory Burns and Dom Sibley “okay”, adding that their consistency would be key in future. Chopra looked fairly disappointed with the “ridiculous” partnership average of South Africa’s opening pair Dean Elgar and Aiden Markram. The 42-year-old also highlighted their low individual averages.

“Recently we saw the new opening pair of Rory Burns and Dom Sibley. They seem okay to me, they are doing good currently but we don’t know long term.

“They have been opening for a long time. Elgar even scored quite a few runs in one match in India. They have an average partnership of 12.53, which you can say is absolutely ridiculous, with a highest partnership of 56. Markram has an individual average of 25.6 while Elgar’s is 29.3. Obviously when their individual averages are less, the partnership average would also be low,” Aakash Chopra stated.

New Zealand’s Tom Latham and Tom Blundell were the openers who impressed Aakash Chopra the most. Chopra highlighted that they score runs in difficult New Zealand conditions and have been successful in overseas matches as well.

“They are good because they average 47.14. And they have scored a lot of runs at home, with the New Zealand conditions being tough. Latham averages 52.9 and Blundell 41.3.

“Blundell also had a very good tour to Australia. We can call this pair fairly decent. Tom Latham has scored runs in India as well while Blundell didn’t come here,” Aakash Chopra asserted.

Finally, Aakash Chopra shed some light on the Indian Test opening pair, saying that “fairly good” Rohit Sharma and Mayank Agarwal have done well in limited opportunities but only factor which goes against them is that they haven’t opened together outside India.

“It is a new partnership and it is growing. They have done a good job in the limited opportunities. They have an average of almost 70 together with Rohit averaging 73.6 and Mayank 57.3. These are fairly good numbers.

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Rohit Pawar

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