IPL 2020: Predicting The Opening Combinations For Each Franchise

One characteristic common with each IPL franchise is the emphasis they put on getting a good start. The right opening partnership is crucial to get off to a good start, which is why a lot of thought goes into deciding who opens the batting. With the wheeling and dealing of the players’ auction complete and the tournament set to begin soon, let’s take a look at each IPL franchise and the (possible) opening combinations they might be starting the tournament with:

#1. Mumbai Indians: Chris Lynn & Quentin de Kock

Although Indian cricket fans would love to see Rohit Sharma open the batting for MI alongside Quentin de Kock, as was the case last season, the acquisition of Chris Lynn seems to suggest a change up top. Both de Kock and Rohit tend to start slowly, which is where the big-hitting Australian might come into play. Lynn’s IPL career has been hampered by injuries but has shown glimpses of his ferocious hitting power during his time with KKR. Moreover, his good form for his BBL team Brisbane Heat might see him promoted over the Hit Man, who prefers to bat down the order in the IPL.

#2. Chennai Super Kings: Shane Watson & Faf du Plessis

After last season’s experiment to partner Watson with Ambati Rayudu proved to be a failure, CSK are likely to pair Watson with Faf du Plessis this season. The South African’s return to the top of the order midway through last season brought about an immediate improvement in both CSK’s and Watson’s form, which is why the experienced duo is likely to repeat their partnership this season as well. Should this pairing fail as well, however, CSK do have in reserve the exciting talent of Maharashtra’s Ruturaj Gaikwad, who has caught the eye in the domestic circuit this season.

#3. Delhi Capitals: Shikhar Dhawan & Prithvi Shaw

Delhi Capitals’ decision to trade for Shikhar Dhawan last season proved to be a smart one, as he scored 521 runs at the top of the order alongside young gun Prithvi Shaw. However, the Capitals’ transfer activity this season has seen them end up with several possible alternatives for the opener’s spot, but they are likely to stick with the same pair from last season. Their other feasible options include Ajinkya Rahane, who will most likely come in at number 3; Marcus Stoinis, who can be used as a pinch-hitter and has proved his worth both for the Australian national side and for his BBL franchise; and the mercurial Jason Roy who is unlikely to feature regularly because of the limitation on the number of foreign players in the playing XI.

#4. Kings XI Punjab: Chris Gayle & KL Rahul

While the talented Kings XI Punjab squad routinely leaves its fans frustrated by not performing to their potential, the opening partnership of Chris Gayle and KL Rahul can strike fear into the heart of any bowling attack. The left hand-right hand duo enjoyed a supremely successful 2019 season and it’s really a no brainer for Kings XI to allow them to renew their partnership in 2020. The only competition that the destructive Jamaican and the stylish Bangalorean face for the opening slot comes from Rahul’s state-mate Mayank Agarwal, who has forced his way into the national side with a brilliant domestic season and usually features in the middle order for Kings XI.

#5. Kolkata Knight Riders: Sunil Narine & Shubman Gill

The move to open the batting with Sunil Narine was one that few people saw coming, and even fewer expected it to be as successful as it did for KKR. The West Indian’s lusty blows at the top set KKR off on many a flying start, and there’s no reason to tinker with his position. His partner is likely to be the young Shubman Gill, who featured for KKR at the top towards the end of last season and acquitted himself well. Should KKR choose to experiment, however, they have in reserve Somerset’s Tom Banton, who has been making waves with his performances in the T20 Blast and the BBL. Should they go for an Indian replacement instead, the stylish Rahul Tripathi is another new acquisition they can try out in that position.

#6. Rajasthan Royals: Jos Buttler & Robin Uthappa/Yashasvi Jaiswal

While one half of the Royals’ opening duo is almost definitely going to be Jos Buttler, there’s still some doubt surrounding his possible partner. The Royals traded for Robin Uthappa in this year’s auction, an experienced option who has opened the batting to good effect for KKR. In sharp contrast, 18-year-old Yashasvi Jaiswal only burst on to the scene in 2019 and is still a raw, unproven talent. Uthappa’s experience is likely to give him the edge at the start of the season, while Jaiswal might make an appearance later on.

#7. Royal Challengers Bangalore: Aaron Finch & Parthiv Patel

Although scoring runs has never been a problem for RCB, it’s their star-studded middle order that usually does the bulk of the scoring rather than the openers. While Parthiv Patel looks set to retain his opening slot, captain Virat Kohli, who shouldered some of the opening responsibilities last year, is set to drop down to accommodate Aaron Finch. The experienced Australian is a limited-overs specialist, capable of building an innings as well as big-hitting, which is just what is required. Another Australian, Josh Philippe, is a wildcard who may be seen making an appearance, having proved himself to be a competent T20 opening batsman in the Big Bash.

#8. Sunrisers Hyderabad: David Warner & Jonny Bairstow

They say “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it,” an adage that applies perfectly to the Sunrisers’ opening partnership of David Warner and Jonny Bairstow. The most successful opening combination of IPL 2019, they smashed the ball to all parts last year, accounting for more than 70% of SRH’s total run tally. While Warner claimed the Orange Cap with 692 runs, Bairstow smashed 445 despite playing just 10 games, with the two combining for four 100-run partnerships. With numbers like these, it’s hard to imagine them being replaced at the top of the order.