The ongoing ICC T20 World Cup has seen some outrageous, action-packed cricket in the first 10 days, and it is bound to get more exciting as the days pass by. Although the last edition of the tournament took place five years before, cricket fans will be enthralled by two of them in 12 months, which is bound to garner many million eyes.
The first-ever edition started with a game between South Africa and West Indies in 2007, and if we see how the game is approached from then to now, we can see how much teams and players have evolved. One major change we have seen is the opening batters being blunter and more aggressive at the top.
There were days when openers were allowed to take their time, but now, every ball is treated like gold dust. One thing that remains constant, though, is the sheer importance of a good start, and how quick it comes.
Sometimes these partnerships could be well over 100 and be of no great use. On another day, a quick 50-run could be devastating enough to post or chase big totals. We have seen many such partnerships over the years in the shortest format, and the current edition continues to provide more examples.
Here’s a look at the five highest opening partnerships in ICC T20 World Cup history
Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan vs India – 152* (ICC T20 World Cup 2021)
The most recent, and perhaps the most memorable of all for Pakistan fans, Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan’s chanceless and staggering effort to take India down in their opening game of the tournament, has proven to be one to remember. Rizwan got 79 runs in 55 deliveries, whilst skipper Azam managed 68 in 52 balls. This is the second biggest partnership in T20Is for Pakistan, and unsurprisingly, the current record also belongs to this pair, who got 197 runs against South Africa not so long ago.
Chris Gayle and Devon Smith vs South Africa – 145 (ICC T20 World Cup 2007)
The T20 World Cup kicked off with this partnership, and it is, till date, one of the most memorable ones. Chris Gayle got a blazing century and was supported by Devon Smith’s 34-ball 35, helping West Indies put up 205 runs batting first. Gayle and Smith added 145 runs, out of which, over 100 runs came from the bat of the Universe Boss. West Indies, however, ended up losing the game to another sensational effort from Herschelle Gibbs as South Africa chased the total down.
Kamran Akmal and Salman Butt vs Bangladesh – 142 (ICC T20 World Cup 2010)
Kamran Akmal and Salman Butt launched a memorable attack against Bangladesh in 2010, which was the biggest opening stand for Pakistan in T20 World Cups until last Sunday. Both batters scored 73 runs each, Akmal getting those in 55 balls and Butt in 46 balls. They made 172 runs batting first, and managed to win the game by 21 runs.
Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag vs England – 136 (ICC T20 World Cup 2007)
A memorable fixture for Indian fans for other reasons, but one must remember that Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag set the platform for Yuvraj Singh to do his job. The Indian openers added 136 runs in that must-win Super 8 game against England. Virender Sehwag scored 68 runs in 52 deliveries, and Gambhir chipped in with a 41-ball 58. India scored 218 runs batting first, before restricting England to 200/6.
Andre Fletcher and Chris Gayle vs Australia – 133 (ICC T20 World Cup 2009)
Easily the greatest T20 cricketer of all time, Chris Gayle was bound to find his name more than once. His partnership of 133 runs against Australia in the 2009 edition helped them chase a 170-run target with ease. Chris Gayle scored 88 in 50 deliveries, whilst Fletcher contributed equally brilliantly with a 32-ball 53. West Indies won this game by 7 wickets.