The Vijay-Rahul pair is the ninth South Indian pair to open for India in Tests © Getty Images
The Vijay-Rahul pair is the ninth South Indian pair to open for India in Tests © Getty Images

Indian opened with Murali Vijay (Tamil Nadu) and KL Rahul (Karnataka) in the fourth Test of the series against Australia at Sydney. Bharath Seervi lists the occasions when Indian team opened with two South Indians and other occasions when the openers belonged to the same zone.

In the New Year test match at SCG, Indian team dropped Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul, who made his debut in the previous test match at Melbourne, was asked to open with Murali Vijay. Rahul plays Ranji Trophy for Karnataka, whereas Vijay hails from Tamil Nadu. Both these states belong to Southern part of the country.

So, how many times have India opened with South Indian openers?

The Vijay-Rahul pair is the ninth South Indian pair to open for India in Tests. There has been an opening pair that stayed long time from South India. The most innings by any South Indian opening pair is 11, between ML Jaisimha (Andhra Pradesh, though his team is Hyderabad) and Budhi Kunderan (Karnataka), and also between Jaisimha and Dilip Sardesai (Goa). Many of the pairs were formed just due to the absence of the regular opener.

Five states fall in the southern part of the country — Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, and Goa (and the newly formed Telangana). Of these, Hyderabad, in Andhra Pradesh, has a separate team.

Below the table lists the South Indian opening pairs for India in Test cricket.

South Indian opening pair for India in Test cricket (note: this includes players born in South India)

Partner 1 Partner 2 Inns
ML Jaisimha (Andhra Pradesh) Budhi Kunderan (Karnataka) 11
Dilip Sardesai (Goa) ML Jaisimha (Andhra Pradesh) 11
VVS Laxman (Andhra Pradesh) Sadagoppan Ramesh (Tamil Nadu) 10
Abhinav Mukund (Tamil Nadu) Murali Vijay (Tamil Nadu) 6
Lokesh Rahul (Karnataka) Murali Vijay (Tamil Nadu) 2
VVS Laxman (Andhra Pradesh) MSK Prasad (Andhra Pradesh) 2
Abid Ali (Andhra Pradesh) Kenia Jayantilal (Andhra Pradesh) 1

Note:

Rahul Dravid has opened with VVS Laxman, Abhinav Mukund and WV Raman. However, Dravid was born in Indore, and hence does not qualify for the list.

Let us see the instances when the openers belonged (born) to the same state. This has happened several times.

Indian opening pairs belonging (born) to the same state in Tests

State Partner 1 Partner 2 Inns
Delhi Gautam Gambhir Virender Sehwag 87
Maharashtra Anshuman Gaekwad Sunil Gavaskar 49
Maharashtra Ashok Mankad Sunil Gavaskar 12
Maharashtra Dilip Vengsarkar Sunil Gavaskar 10
Maharashtra Farokh Engineer Sunil Gavaskar 7
Maharashtra Farokh Engineer Ashok Mankad 6
Tamil Nadu Abhinav Mukund Murali Vijay 6
Maharashtra Farokh Engineer Sudhir Naik 4
Maharashtra Ramnath Parkar Sunil Gavaskar 4
Maharashtra Ravi Shastri Sunil Gavaskar 3
Gujarat Nari Contractor Vinoo Mankad 2
Maharashtra Farokh Engineer Eknath Solkar 2
Maharashtra Sudhir Naik Sunil Gavaskar 2
Maharashtra Ghulam Parkar Sunil Gavaskar 2
Maharashtra Eknath Solkar Sunil Gavaskar 2
Maharashtra Dattaram Hindlekar Vijay Merchant 2
Andhra Pradesh VVS Laxman MSK Prasad 2
Andhra Pradesh Abid Ali Kenia Jayantilal 1
Punjab Dilawar Hussain Syed Wazir Ali 1
Maharashtra Hemant Kanitkar Sunil Gavaskar 1
Maharashtra Suru Nayak Ravi Shastri 1
Maharashtra Ravi Shastri Dilip Vengsarkar 1

Opening pairs from Maharashtra dominate the list. However, Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir, both from Delhi, formed India’s most prolific Test opening pair. They have opened in 87 innings, aggregating 4,412 partnership runs at 52.52 with 11 century partnerships and 25 half-century partnerships.

Sunil Gavaskar and Anshuman Gaekwad, both born in Bombay (though Gaekwad played for Gujarat), opened in 49 innings. They form the third-most prolific opening pair for India. Hence, among top three opening pairs of India in Tests, two of them belong to the same states.

The only pair from Gujarat is Nari Contractor and Vinoo Mankad (twice); from Punjab, Dilawar Hussain and Syed Wazir Ali (once each) and from Tamil, Vijay and Abhinav Mukund (six times). There have been two pairs from Andhra Pradesh: Laxman and MSK Prasad (twice) and Abid Ali and Kenia Jayantilal (once).

The remaining 16 are all from Maharashtra. Sunil Gavaskar, who opened in 203 Test innings, appearing ten times in the list with 10 other Maharashtra-born openers; barring the 49 occasions he has opened with Gaekwad, he has also opened 12 times with Ashok Mankad and 10 times with Dilip Vengsarkar.

(Bharath Seervi is a cricket statistician who is obsessed with digging numbers, facts and records related to the game. An active member of Society of Cricket Statisticians of India, he blogs at www.cricketseervistats.blogspot.com. He can be followed on Twitter at www.twitter.com/SeerviBharath and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SeerviCricket)