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Five most prolific Test batting pairs

Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene© AFP
Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, the most famed and cherished duo in the history of Sri Lankan cricket © AFP

Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara became the most successful pair in Test cricket behind Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid. Amit Banerjee brings out the list of Test’s cricket’s most memorable partners and some of their achievements in the longest format.

After Kausal Silva got dismissed by Abdur Rehman, the Sinhalese Sports Club (SSC) was on its feet. For the last time in Test cricket, Mahela Jayawardene walked out to the ground from the pavilion. For Jayawardene, it could not have been more perfect as he got to play his farewell innings at the ground which had become his favourite hunting spot over the years courtesy eleven centuries.

It was also the last time that the world got to see Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara together at the pitch in the longest format. The two legends have written several records together and managed to add another one on Day 3 of the second Test against Pakistan. At 115 for two, the two moved past the record set by West Indians Desmond Haynes and Gordon Greenidge to occupy the second spot on the list of the most successful pairs in Test cricket.

Following are five of the most prolific duos who have redefined partnerships in Test cricket and have won matches for their team on many an occasion:

1. Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar (6920)

India’s top two run-scorers have shared a special bond while at the crease, topping the list of highest runs by a pair for all wickets in Test cricket and have shared several important stands which are still talked about and will continue to do so in the years to come among the Indian fans. The two also share 20 century partnerships in the longest format, which is as of now a world record. With nearly 7,000 runs in their kitty, the retired duo will occupy the top pedestal for long time.

Among the several crucial partnerships that they have shared till date, a fan favourite would be the 169-run partnership during India’s first innings against Australia in the third and final Test at Chennai, which India won by two wickets and went on to went the series 2-1. Another memorable stand would be the 150-run partnership between the two in the first innings of the third Test at Headingley. The duo’s contributions helped India post a massive 628 before bowling England out twice to win by an innings and 46 runs and level the series 1-1.

2. Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara (6545 and counting)

The most famed and cherished duo in the history of Sri Lankan cricket, Jayawardene and Sangakkara awed the world with a mammoth 624-run partnership against South Africa in 2006, breaking the nine-year 576-run record set by compatriots Sanath Jayasuriya and Roshan Mahanama. The mind-boggling stand helped the Lankans post 756 in their only innings against the listless Proteas, thrashing them by an innings and 53 runs. The two, who have known each other since their teens,  hold the record for most runs for the third-wicket partnerships, surpassing Dravid and Tendulkar’s record.

Mahela and “Sanga” are known to be close friends in real-life and have extended their partnership to the business of food. The two own a restaurant called “Ministry of Crabs” in a joint investment with one of Sri Lanka’s best-known chefs.

With the two still at the crease in the ongoing second and final Test at the Sinhalese Sports Club,  the two will be hoping to call the curtains on their bond in the Test arena with a bang. Their partnership will surely help the hosts seal a victory in the match as well as a 2-0 clean sweep.

3. Desmond Haynes and Gordon Greenidge (6545)

The world of cricket shall perhaps never see a more prolific opening duo for a very long time. The bowlers of the of the present day will perhaps not be able to connect to the terror that the bowlers during the era of Haynes and Greenidge experienced. In a team that dominated cricket for nearly two decades, the Barbadians were responsible for providing the kind of start that would ensure a smooth ride for the West Indies for the rest of the match.

The statistics to back their claims are incredible. The duo had 16 century partnerships between them, four of which were 200-plus stands. The most memorable of their partnerships was the 298-run first-wicket stand against England in Antigua in 1990, which by itself contributed to 66 per cent of the runs scored by West Indies in that innings. The hosts went on to win the game by an innings and 32 runs and the flogging that the duo inflicted on the English bowlers remains etched in the latter’s minds to this day.

4. Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer (6081)

For most part of Australia’s domination of world cricket during the late 90s and for most part of the noughties, the start to the Aussie innings was almost always given by hard-hitting Matthew Hayden and the elegant Justin Langer. With over 6,000 runs shared between them from 122 Test innings at an average of 51.53, the duo have left behind a legacy of inspiration for the current and future generations and terror for the bowlers from their generation.

Langer and Hayden moved past legendary West Indian openers Greenidge and Haynes in terms of the number of double-century partnerships shared when the duo shared a 242-run stand, which was the fifth partnership of its type between the two.

When it came to prolificacy and consistency over a sustained period of time, Langer and Hayden were perhaps the only pair who were deserved to be compared with Haynes and Greenidge, as they continued to torment bowlers until Langer’s retirement after the 2006-07 Ashes. Langer later referred to Hayden as “the best opening batsman Australia has ever produced.”

5. Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook (5253)

The two parts of the most-successful English pair of all-time are as alike as it can get, unlike the likes of Greenidge and Haynes, Langer and Hayden, Sangakkara and Mahela, etc. The duo surpassed English legends Jack Hobbs and Herbert Sutcliffe during the 2010-11 Ashes series and are as of now the only English pair and the fourth of all time to aggregate 5000 or more runs.

The two have had similar approaches towards the game. Both share an aggressive flair and are calm of temperament. They’ve had 14 century partnerships between them, with a third-wicket stand of 229 against West Indies at Barbados being their highest partnership that is also England’s highest partnership against the Caribbean side.

Cook was always seen as the successor of Andrew Strauss and did so when the latter retired from all formats of the game in 2012.

(Amit Banerjee, a reporter at CricketCountry, takes keen interest in photography, traveling, technology, automobiles, food and, of course, cricket. He can be followed on Twitter via his handle @akb287)

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