WTC Finals is fast approaching and both the teams look pretty settled. The one thing that may be troubling the Indians is the choice of the best opening pair. The other slots are pretty much self-occupied. While Rohit Sharma has been outstanding throughout the WTC League, doubt is mainly on who will accompany him. Indeed the overall stats are in favor of Mayank, when overseas matches are taken into account his claim weakens.
Shubman Gill had fewer chances than him but has had greater success overseas. Mayank got the nod ahead of Gill in the New Zealand and West Indies Tour. But we saw little contribution from his side in those tours. Meanwhile, Gill when chosen for the Australian Tour was flamboyant. In fact, his 91 runs innings at Gabba will be one of the best innings even at the end of his career.
Subsequently, other notable players who opened for the team in the span of two years were Prithwi Shaw and K L Rahul. Unfortunately, they are not part of the squad which will tour England. The contenders for the opening pair for this WTC Finals are none other than:
- Rohit Sharma
- Mayank Agrawal
- Shubman Gill
Let’s evaluate this statistically
To compare their performances, we have considered the following parameters:
- Runs Scored
- Balls Faced
- Strike Rate
- Centuries and Half Centuries scored
- Boundaries hit
We have compared the statistics for the overall WTC League match as well for away tours in the graphs shown later on.
Rohit Sharma has been a prolific performer for Team India in white-ball cricket. His failure in the longer format was usually a matter of surprise. He redeemed himself as an opener in the Test series against South Africa. Since then he had only improved as a Test match player. In terms of scoring runs, he comes second only to Rahane who had an amazing season with the bat. Rohit Sharma scored 1030 runs in the span of 8 matches he played. 6 of them were in Indian Soil and the other two came against the Australians.
In this period he faces 1597 balls and scored at a strike rate of 64.49. Not only his strike rate is good, but he also averages an astonishing 64.37. Scoring big has never been a problem for him. He made 4 centuries as well as 2 half-centuries. When the hitman goes going, the boundaries seem to be unstoppable. He has hit 27 sixes and 123 fours in these 8 matches.
Mayank Agrawal had got the most chances as an opener for the Indian Team in this period. He played 10 Test matches as an opener. Initially, in 2019 and the first half of 2020 he was the first choice Opener for the Indian Team. He has scored 857 runs at an average of 42.85.
Mayank takes second place in terms of scoring runs among the Indian openers. He has faced 1556 balls during this period and scored with a strike rate of 55.07. Coincidently this is the least among the three players selected as openers in the squad. He had a fantastic test series when the Proteas toured India. Overall he has hit 3 centuries and 3 half-centuries. In terms of boundaries, he has hit 104 fours and 18 sixes. he is third on the list of players hitting sixes and behind second among Indians. His statistics dip formidably overseas which may be a crucial factor on whether he gets to play the WTC Final.
Here comes the youngest of them, Shubman Gill. When the Indian Team won the World Cup in 2011, this kid was watching the match on television. Who would have thought that the same kid may open in the WTC Final for India? He has played 6 matches in WTC League scoring 378 runs. The number of runs may not seem to be much, but 259 runs of them have come overseas. Among these three players, he has the most runs in overseas matches.
He has faced 644 balls and scored at a strike rate of 58.69. Coincidently among these three players only his strike rate increase when considering overseas conditions only. It increases to 60.66 which is a big factor in his favor. His highest score was 91 against the Australians at Gabba. He scored 2 half-centuries in that tour. Considering the boundaries hit, he has 51 fours and 5 sixes up his belt too.
Here comes the Graphs
Graphically representing different parameters together is not possible. We cannot represent the Average and Strike Rate along with the Runs scored or number of balls faced. So we took the average of the stats of these three players and the numbers representing in the graph are ratios of their stats with that average value.
If the stats shows more than one, the players has performed better than the average. Similarly if it shows less than 1 the players was below average in that matter.
Case I : Considering all the matches played
It can be seen that Rohit Sharma stands tall in this category with Mayank as a close second. Other than scoring half-centuries, in all other categories, Rohit’s stats are best among the three. Shubman has got fewer chances than others. But this trend will change once we consider only overseas matches.
Case II : Considering only the overseas matches
As expected, Shubman Gill stands out to be the best opener overseas for India. His stellar performance on the Australian tour was only a glimpse of what he hopes to bring in the future. These statistics tip the scales in his favor as opposed to Mayank in much greater magnitude. To sum up, none of the players were able to score a century overseas and Gill’s 91 runs remain the highest score by an Indian opener in away matches.
WTC Finals : Who should open? Final Verdict
Well for starters Rohit Sharma will be the first choice opener for Team India. His experience as well as form in the recent past goes in his favour. Mayank’s form in the 2019 and early 2020 may have been tipped in his favour. But Shubman Gill’s humongous performance in the overseas test makes him our second opener.
India should go with Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill as far as opening formation is concerned.