Firing on one cylinder

K. L. Rahul and Abhinav Mukund in the first innings of the second Test against Australia in Bengaluru. Had Rahul, who was dismissed for 90, managed to score 10 more runs, he would have become the first Indian opener to score three centuries when his opening partner had scored a duck.   -  Reuters

During the first day of the second Test of the on-going India-Australia Test series, India’s opener K. L. Rahul was dismissed for 90. He was running out of partners and resorted to some wild swinging to get the team some quick runs, and himself a century, but unfortunately became the ninth Indian wicket to fall in the process. If he had managed to score 10 more runs, Rahul would have become the first Indian opener to score three centuries when his opening partner had scored a duck. In that innings, his opening partner Abhinav Mukund was dismissed for an eight-ball duck. Mukund also made a duck in the last Test that he played for India, against England in Nottingham (2011), and on that occasion his opening partner (another Rahul) scored a century in the same innings (Rahul Dravid, 117).

Apart from Rahul, Virender Sehwag, Sunil Gavaskar and Vinoo Mankad have also scored two centuries each while their opening partners had made ducks in the same innings. The last two instances of an Indian opener scoring a century when his partner had a scored a duck has involved Rahul. In 2015, Rahul scored 108 against Sri Lanka, at the P. Sara Oval, and 110 against Australia, at the SCG, with Murali Vijay scoring ducks in both those innings.

K. L. Rahul’s Top-5 scores in Tests

ScoreOpening Partner's ScoreOppositionVenueYear
19971 (Parthiv Patel)EnglandChennai2016
15827 (Shikhar Dhawan)West IndiesKingston2016
1100 (Murali Vijay)AustraliaSydney2015
1080 (Murali Vijay)Sri LankaColombo2015
900 (Abhinav Mukund)AustraliaBangalore2017

 

Interestingly, in both these Tests, Rahul failed in the second innings while Vijay made useful contributions. Against Sri Lanka, Vijay made 82 in the second innings, while Rahul scored 2. Against Australia, Vijay scored 80 in the second innings, while Rahul scored 16. This is indicative of India’s recent struggles to have both their openers making runs in the same innings. India’s struggle to have both openers firing in the same match is epitomised by the fact that since August 2015, there has been just one 100-plus opening stand in 37 innings. However, the individual openers have clearly been in reasonably good form because they have cumulatively managed to score eight hundreds in the same period. India’s average opening stand in this period is only worth 26.57 runs, while India’s primary openers individually average much more. Rahul averages 42.05 in this period, while Vijay averages 36.15, both with three centuries each.

 

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Q & A

Young Matt Renshaw has already given a good account of himself in the ongoing India-Australia series by scoring two fifties. Has any visiting batsman made so many 50-plus scores in the sub-continent at such a young age?

— Vishak Abraham, Bengaluru, Karnataka

Matt Renshaw, at 20 years of age, has already scored two fifties in India. He is the first Australian to make two 50-plus scores in the sub-continent before turning 21. However, there are four batsmen from other countries who have achieved this feat. England’s Haseeb Hameed and New Zealand’s Terry Jarvis also scored two fifties in the sub-continent before turning 21, while West Indies’ Kraigg Brathwaite made three such scores. The only batsman to score a hundred in the sub-continent before turning 21 is New Zealand’s Kane Williamson, who also scored a fifty to go along with his hundred. Of the 11 scores discussed in this question, nine have come against India.

More than one Indian batsman was stumped in the first innings of the second Test against Australia. Has this ever happened to India in a Test match?

— Abhinav Ramesh, Chennai, Tamil Nadu

Ajinkya Rahane and Karun Nair were stumped in the first innings of the second Test against Australia. While three Indian batsmen have never been stumped in the same Test innings, there have actually been 14 previous instances of two batsmen getting stumped in the same innings. The record for the most number of stumpings in a single innings is held by West Indies, when five of its batsmen were dismissed stumped against India (four of them to Narendra Hirwani), in Chennai, in 1988. On a related note, Anil Kumble has been stumped six times in Tests, the most for an Indian.

I read that Nathan Lyon has now taken the most wickets for an Australian against India. Across countries, which bowler has the best record against India?

— Roy Damodaran, Thodupuzha, Kerala

In the first innings of the second Test of the India-Australia series, Nathan Lyon went past Brett Lee’s Australian record (53) for the most wickets by an Australian against India. There have been 24 bowlers who have taken 50-plus Test wickets against India, with Muralitharan leading the way (105 wickets). However, India has generally played Muralitharan quite well and he only averages 32.61 against India. Among the 24 bowlers with 50-plus wickets against India, Fred Trueman has the best average (14.84), followed by Allan Donald (17.31) and Richie Benaud (18.38).