The role of an opening batsman is one of the most important ones in ODI cricket. Openers have to be on their best from the word go. It is their responsibility to provide a platform for the batting side. Some do it in an aggressive style by using the powerplay to their benefit. While some just keep digging in at the crease and try to play till the end while others bat around them. Some players find that pressure too much to handle; others thrive in it and enjoy taking apart opposition bowling attacks early in the match. In the history of ODI cricket, many such openers have taken the art of run-scoring to new levels while decimating even the top bowlers. In today’s article, we will look at the 5 greatest openers in ODI of all time, who have made this position their own by their unique talents.
5) Virender Sehwag
The Master of Hand-eye coordination, Virender Sehwag is one of the greatest attacking openers in ODI of all time. With minimal footwork and maximum intent, Sehwag demolished bowling attacks all over the world. Only a handful of batsmen have hit the ball harder square on the offside, and fewer have done so as often as Sehwag. The “Nawab of Najafgarh” as an opener has scored a total of 7,518 ODI runs with 14 centuries in 212 innings at an astonishing strike rate of 104.72. However, his average of 36.49 is not high as it could be due to his aggressive batting style. At one point, he was also the record holder of most runs in an ODI inning with 219 against West Indies.
4) Rohit Sharma
The “Hitman” has, without doubt, become one of the best batsmen in ODI since becoming an opener. His record in the 50-over format has been immaculate. In 141 innings he batted as an opener, he has scored 7238 runs at an average of 57.44 with a strike rate of 92.19. Along with 31 fifties, he also has 27 centuries to his name. Sharma also holds the record of highest ever ODI score in an innings when he scored 264 against Sri Lanka. The Mumbaikar also holds the record of most centuries (5) in a single world cup. The double hundred hitting machine is for sure one of the greatest openers in ODI of all time.
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3) Adam Gilchrist
Adam Gilchrist was the heart and soul of the Australian ODI team from the late 1990s till the mid-2000s. This team was one of the best in the history of ODI cricket as they captured three World cups on the trot. Adam Gilchrist redefined how wicket-keepers should bat by his exciting array of shots. He was perfectly suited for ODI’s where he would make the most out of field restrictions at the start of the innings. In the 259 innings as an opener, he scored 9,200 runs with the help of 16 hundred and 53 half-centuries. An average of 36.51 was not bad at all for a batsman who strike the ball at a rate of 98.03. Gilchrist was a true match-winner and a big game player. His 149-run innings in the final of the 2007 world cup is a testament to that.
2) Sanath Jayasuriya
From opening the innings as a pinch hitter to leading Sri Lanka to its first-ever world cup, Sanath Jayasuriya became one of the greatest openers in ODI of all time. He is one of the reasons batsmen like to attack in the powerplay rather than seeing off the new ball. He changed the mindset of the players and made teams rethink their approach in the ODIs. Superb hand-eye coordination along with his flicking skills helped Jayasuriya in assaulting bowlers all around the park throughout his career. In 383 innings as an opener, Jayasuriya scored a total of 12,740 runs with an average and strike rate of 34.62 and 92.48. respectively. He also got 28 centuries and 66 half-centuries to his name. Jayasuriya also holds an unwanted record of most ducks in ODI history. But he is also the second oldest to score a hundred in ODI cricket.
The “Master Blaster” is without any doubt the greatest ODI opener of all time. Sachin was the most complete batsman ever. Along with a strong attacking display he was equally capable of a stout defense. As an opener, Sachin batted in 340 innings and scored a massive 15,310 runs at an average of 48.30. He also has a record of 45 centuries along with 70 half-centuries to his name. Moreover, his strike rate of 88.05 was also not bad at all. Moreover, Sachin could score all around the wicket. Off both front foot and back foot could play on any track, and score at any part of the world. Tendulkar’s accomplishments seem even more impressive when viewed through the prism of the weight of expectations he carried throughout his career. Above all, he is arguably the biggest icon of the game.
Check out: 5 Best Innings Of Sachin Tendulkar
Stats of 5 Greatest Openers in ODI of All Time
|Rank||Player||Country||Innings||Total Runs||Average||Strike-rate||Best score|
|2||Sanath Jayasuriya||Sri Lanka||383||12740||34.62||92.48||189|
Note: Only those innings were taken into account in which these players batted as an opener.
Honorable Mentions: Apart from these 5 openers, there were some other great openers of the game who missed the cut by small margins. Those are- Sourav Ganguly, Hashim Amla, Gordon Greenidge, Saeed Anwar, and Matthew Hayden.
Conclusion- Writer’s Opinion
There is one interesting thing to look at in this article. All the Openers that were ranked as the greatest of all time have one similarity in them. Each one of them started their ODI career as a middle/lower order batsman and later converted intro the role of an opener. However,these 5 players have re-defined the game in their own way. Above all, the cricket fans are thankful to the circumstances that made these five batsmen open the batting at various points of their career.