India’s best ODI pair? Tendulkar and Ganguly, says Ian Chappell

Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly faced tougher opponents than Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma do today, says the former Australian captain.

Sachin Tendulkar (left) and Sourav Ganguly faced some of the best fast-bowling combinations in their era, says Chappell.   -  THE HINDU ARCHIVES

When it came to facing quality pace attacks, Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly may have had a tougher job to do than the current Indian prolific batting duo of Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma, former Australia captain Ian Chappell has argued.

In a column for ESPNcricinfo, he wrote: “An argument could be mounted that Kohli and Sharma are India’s best ever one-day batsmen. The obvious challengers would be the feted combination of Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly, who tormented international bowlers for 15 years.”

‘Serious test’

During the era of Tendulkar and Ganguly, each international team had two quality fast bowlers, Chappell pointed out. “[Tendulkar and Ganguly] spent bulk of that time opening together against some of the best fast-bowling combinations. Facing Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis from Pakistan; Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh of West Indies; Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee of Australia; Allan Donald and Shaun Pollock for South Africa; Lasith Malinga and Chaminda Vaas of Sri Lanka, was a serious test of a batsman’s skill,” he wrote.

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Chappell quoted former Pakistan captain Imran Khan — ‘You judge a man by his opponents’ — and went on: “On the basis of the quality of the opposition, you’d have to lean towards Tendulkar and Ganguly. However, if you extrapolate their current figures to give Kohli the same number of innings as Tendulkar, and Sharma the equal of Ganguly, the current pair finish well in front.”

‘Excellent combined records’

Chappell acknowledged that Kohli and Sharma were the best ever white-ball batting pair. “Their combined ODI and T20I records are excellent, with Kohli — averaging over 50 in both formats — at the unbelievable level. To be fair, Tendulkar played very little T20I cricket and Ganguly’s career was finished by the time the format blossomed,” he wrote.

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He said even though Tendulkar became the first batsman to score an ODI double-century, Rohit fine-tuned the art by scoring three double-centuries. “Indian fans have been extremely fortunate to witness, close up, four of the best short-form batsmen of all time,” Chappell wrote.

Special players

“With Tendulkar it was his all-round mastery of the art but he never ceased to amaze with his back-foot forcing shots on bouncy pitches for a man short in stature. When he was going there was no better off-side player than Ganguly; his drives, so effortlessly played, would pierce even the most crowded cover field.”

About Kohli and Rohit, he said, “It’s not so much the huge scores that stamp Kohli’s class but the regularity of his success. He punishes bowlers all round the wicket by keeping the ball on the ground the bulk of the time. Thanks to him eliminating a lot of the risk in batting, his scores are consistently high but still amassed at a good rate. Sharma, on the other hand, tends to play risk-free cricket early on, but once he gets motoring, it’s a case of ‘watch out in the stands’. While he does not exude muscle power like Chris Gayle, Sharma hits nearly as many sixes per innings and has a higher strike-rate.”

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