The 13th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL 2020) is all set to kick off this Saturday, and all 8 teams have been training for the tournament for many weeks now in the UAE.
Conditions in the UAE will be more difficult than those in India, and utilising the hard new ball before the pitch gets slower and the spinners start getting purchase will be absolutely crucial to teams' fortunes.
Ranking the opening combinations of all 8 IPL 2020 teams
Ahead of IPL 2020, we attempt to predict who the two openers from each team will be, and rank them (from worst to best) in terms of how strong the combination looks.
Note: All players from England and Australia have been assumed to be available, with no official word yet regarding their participation in the first few games of IPL 2020.
#8 Kolkata Knight Riders - Sunil Narine and Rahul Tripathi
Sunil Narine has redefined the role of a pinch hitter in the IPL, and was in excellent form in the few games that he played in the recently concluded Caribbean Premier League (CPL). The West Indian is absolutely unstoppable on his day, and can be partnered by either Shubman Gill, Siddhesh Lad or Rahul Tripathi.
The fact that Gill has batted at No. 3 for KKR in the past, coupled with Tripathi's experience in the IPL, might mean that the former Rising Pune Supergiant man is given the nod.
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While this is not a poor combination by any means, they are not better (on paper) than the others on this list.
#7 Chennai Super Kings - Shane Watson and Murali Vijay
Shane Watson has been a consistent presence at the top of the order in the last two IPL seasons for CSK, but apart from a few crucial knocks, hasn't been at his best. However, with the long break putting everyone on even footing, the Australian could shine in IPL 2020.
The departure of Suresh Raina has left a hole that is expected to be filled by either Ruturaj Gaikwad or Murali Vijay, but the former is yet to recover from COVID-19. The Tamil Nadu batsman could step in for Raina, and if he does play, there is no doubt that he will be opening the innings.
Vijay is a CSK legend, and although he hasn't played very regularly for the team since returning, IPL 2020 could be his. Despite this combination also being a solid one, they are placed as low as #7 on this list.