Four masters of ODI batting, going up against each other in a winner-takes-all showdown on the best batting pitch in England
In a game of tantalising match-ups across the board, with top billing inevitably afforded to the iconic skippers Virat and AB, perhaps the most intriguing subplot sees two pairs of quality opening batsmen going up against each other.
Using stats provided by CricViz, ICC’s official broadcast analytics supplier, we take a closer look at the Indian axis of Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan, and the South African pairing of Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock.
Rohit Sharma – 155 ODIs; 5300 runs; 10 centuries at 42; strike rate 84
Shikhar Dhawan – 78 ODIs; 3283 runs; 10 centuries at 44; strike rate 90
Hashim Amla – 155 ODIs; 7151 runs; 25 centuries at 50; strike rate 89
Quinton De Kock – 84 ODIs; 3466 runs; 12 centuries at 43; strike rate 94
It’s a right-left combination for each pairing. The right-handed Sharma is the stylist. Fluent through the offside and lethal on anything short, he possesses a devastating pull shot, as evidenced by five leg side sixes so far in the tournament. Dhawan, the southpaw, is punchier and more compact, immensely strong on the drive and the short-arm pull shot.
Amla is one of the most elegant players of his generation who scores smoothly without ever resorting to raw power, with magical wrists and a legside game comparable to the greats through history. His partner is the more obvious aggressor who loves to go airborne early, especially over the offside – give de Kock width and he will cut you to bits.
Sharma’s 264 against Sri Lanka at Kolkata in 2014 remains the highest ODI score in history, and he is the only man to have made two scores in excess of 200 in ODI history. Dhawan meanwhile has now made three centuries in the ICC Champions Trophy, and he seems to raise his game in ICC events: with 962 runs from ICC ODI tournaments since the start of the 2013 tournament, he is 205 runs clear of Kumar Sangakkara in second place and 292 clear of Sharma himself in third.
Amla is the fastest ODI batsman to 4,000, 5,000, 6,000 and 7,000 runs and comfortably the quickest to chalk up 25 hundreds in the format. Quinton de Kock is also a record-breaker: in November 2016 he became, at 23 years and 54 days, the youngest man to notch 10 ODI centuries, usurping Virat Kohli by 105 days. And while Kohli took 80 innings to reach the landmark, de Kock needed just 55. Staggering.
Both are utterly dominant against spinners, Sharma immensely so, which indicates that if they can get through the new ball, then both can go big against the slow men. And they dovetail well together: their average batting together since the end of the 2015 ICC World Cup is 52.8, better than any other pairing who have batted more than 10 times together.
These two have batted a lot together in the last two years, aggregating more runs than any other opening partnership in world cricket. And within that, they average a 50-plus partnership once every four matches, indicating consistency and stability over a significant period of time.
ODI averages since 2015 ICC World Cup
Q de Kock
Highest ODI total opening partnerships since 2015 ICC World Cup
HM Amla, Q de Kock
AD Hales, JJ Roy
MJ Guptill, TWM Latham
Soumya Sarkar, Tamim Iqbal
AJ Finch, DA Warner
S Dhawan, RG Sharma
Mohammad Shahzad, Noor Ali Zadran
Imrul Kayes, Tamim Iqbal
MJ Guptill, BB McCullum
Ahmed Shehzad, Azhar Ali
Both are in great touch. Sharma has peeled off a 91 and a 78 so far – his first knock against Pakistan ended with a run-out – while Dhawan kicked off with 68 and a superb 125 against Sri Lanka at The Oval.
Looking at the stats going back to the end of the last ICC World Cup in 2015, Sharma has inched ahead of the others, averaging a colossal 63.5, and all at a strike rate of 94.
Amla, as we’ve come to expect, was impregnable at The Oval, where he averages 211 in Tests and now, after his latest masterpiece against Sri Lanka, 48 in ODIs. However, he failed against Pakistan, making just 16, while de Kock has only flickered so far, with scores of 23 and 33. He’s due.
Of the four, only de Kock has scored his runs quicker than Sharma over the last two years, averaging a tick under 50 and boasting a run-a-ball strike-rate. Perhaps surprisingly, Amla’s average over the last 40 innings hovers just under the 40 mark – a full 10 runs-per-innings fewer than his overall career ODI average.
ODI record since 2015 ICC World Cup
Q de Kock
Four masters of ODI batting, going up against each other in a winner-takes-all showdown on the best batting pitch in England. It’s a mouth-watering prospect. Which pair comes out on top could well determine the outcome of the match.
All statistics provided by CricViz, ICC’s official broadcast analytics supplier