Rohit Sharma (left) and Shikhar Dhawan have been two of India's best batsmen in T20Is this year © AFP
Rohit Sharma (left) and Shikhar Dhawan have been two of India’s best batsmen in T20Is this year © AFP

Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan have been two of India’s best batsmen in limited overs cricket so far this year. Till the start of ICC T20 World Cup 2016, Rohit had scored 337 runs in 11 matches at 30.63 with 3 fifties. Dhawan had scored 258 runs at 32.25 with 2 fifties. Only Virat Kohli, who has been by far the best batsman in T20I cricket this year, has more runs and fifties for India. Both Dhawan and Rohit were in decent form in Asia Cup T20 2016 as well. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: India vs Australia, Match 31, ICC World T20 2016 at Mohali

However, in the ongoing T20 World Cup, Rohit has made scores of 5, 10, and 18, while Dhawan has scored 1, 6, and 23. This has severely hampered India’s progress since they have been used to at least one of the openers doing well. Kohli has continued to be India’s rock, but it is both unfair and foolhardy to expect him to score in every single match without fail. India’s middle-order has been misfiring as well; they could be expected to make some valuable contributions, but there is no doubt that the innings will have to be set up by someone in the top three. Preview: India vs Australia, T20 World Cup 2016, Match 31 at Mohali

Kohli has traditionally thrived against Australia, but both Rohit and Dhawan were in cracking form against them at the start of the year as well. Rohit was named Man of the Series in the ODI series between India and Australia earlier in the year, and had been in great touch in the T20I series that followed. Even Dhawan had frequently got India off to solid starts on that tour, especially toward the latter half of the series. READ: Jasprit Bumrah’s spell could turn matches in India’s favour

Rohit and Dhawan will look to take some inspiration from those performances and perform well in the virtual knockout match they will play against Australia. India had lost the ODI series 1-4 before bouncing back in spectacular fashion to win the T20Is 3-0 in a thrilling series. A major part of their success in that tournament was down to the starts that Rohit and Dhawan managed to get India off to. READ: India’s conundrum with Mohammed Shami

India’s openers are short of runs and confidence, but the virtual quarter-final against Australia in ICC T20 World Cup 2016 will be the best time for that to change. People are saying whoever wins this match could go on to win the World T20. If that is to be India, they will need their talismanic openers to get back to form, and fast.

(Shiamak Unwalla, a reporter with CricketCountry, is an animal lover and comic, film and TV geek. A fast bowler at heart, he enjoys watching a good, low-scoring game of cricket. His Twitter handle is @ShiamakUnwalla)