IPL 2020: Ranking the openers of the 8 teams
- Which team has the best opening combination heading into the season?
- Do you see one of these teams as the runaway winners in the current season
The auction for the 2020 IPL season provided the perfect opportunity for the teams to address specific issues that affected their performance in the previous IPL seasons. While some teams strengthened their existing squads, certain teams still have voids to be addressed.
The role of the openers in T20 cricket is exceptionally vital as they set the pace for the remainder of the innings. Be it taking advantage of the fielding restrictions or batting through the innings, and the openers are of vital importance in T20 cricket.
Mumbai Indians acquired Chris Lynn in the auction as a specialist opener, whereas Kolkata Knight Riders successfully bid for Tom Banton for the 2020 IPL season. Royal Challengers Bangalore have the services of Aaron Finch for the upcoming season and will look to add solidity at the top of the order. Delhi Capitals will have the experienced Ajinkya Rahane at the top of the order to bat through the innings.
On that note, here is a look at the opening options for the teams in their order of potency.
#8 Kolkata Knight Riders
Options: Sunil Narine, Rahul Tripathi, Tom Banton, and Shubman Gill
Chris Lynn was released by Kolkata Knight Riders ahead of the 2020 IPL auction, and their opening combination will be affected due to his absence. KKR have four options in Sunil Narine, Rahul Tripathi, Tom Banton, and Shubman Gill to open the batting for KKR.
Though Sunil Narine has done well as an opener for KKR in few IPL matches, he cannot be termed as a specialist opener.
Rahul Tripathi has struggled in the last couple of seasons in the IPL. He averaged a mere 23.50 in the 2019 season and batted in the middle order on most occasions. It will be interesting to see if KKR open the innings with Tripathi, who made a name for himself in the 2017 IPL season while opening the batting.
KKR acquired Tom Banton in the recent auction, and the 21-year-old in all likelihood will open the innings for KKR. Banton is an aggressive batsman at the top of the order and has tasted success at the domestic level. However, IPL is a different ball game, and he will be tested in conditions alien to him.
Though Gill has opened the batting for KKR in the past, the management will be keen to have Gill in the middle order. The presence of Russell, Morgan, Karthik, and Gill in the middle order adds balance to the team.
KKR may have Banton and Narine as openers at the beginning of the IPL season. However, if the experiment with Narine fails, they may back Tripathi to open the innings with Banton.
KKR lack experience and openers who have tasted success in the past in IPL and will be hopeful that Narine and Banton get them to a flying start each time they open the innings.
#7 Rajasthan Royals
Options: Robin Uthappa, Jos Buttler, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Manan Vohra and Sanju Samson
In Ajinkya Rahane, Rajasthan Royals had a reliable batsman who could anchor the innings and bat through the 20 overs. However, Rahane was released by RR before the auction, and RR acquired Robin Uthappa in the auction.
In all likelihood, RR will look to open the innings with Jos Buttler and Robin Uthappa. Uthappa has struggled to get going in the previous two editions of the IPL. He will be hopeful that a change of franchise will lead to a change in fortunes in the 2020 IPL season.
In case of injuries, RR will look to rely on the likes of Manan Vohra to open the innings. Vohra did not feature in a single game in the previous edition of the IPL and played just four matches in 2018. He has been short of match practice in IPL and may find it challenging to get going immediately.
Yashasvi Jaiswal is an exciting young prospect who has been in prolific form in Under 19 cricket. However, IPL is a different ball game, and it will be interesting to see if the management will open the batting with Jaiswal.
Sanju Samson is another option for RR to open the batting. However, Samson has been effective in the middle order for RR in the past, and his presence in the middle order is vital to the success of RR in the middle overs.
All in all, RR will reply upon Buttler and Uthappa to open the batting. However, the indifferent form of Uthappa may affect RR's chances in the 2020 IPL.
#6 Royal Challengers Bangalore
Options: Aaron Finch, Parthiv Patel, Virat Kohli, Devdutt Padikkal and Joshua Phillippe
Royal Challengers Bangalore have been over-reliant on Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers to get the big scores in the previous editions of the IPL. However, the lack of a specialist opening pair has often forced Virat Kohli to open the batting for RCB, which has affected their team combination.
Virat is best suited to bat at number 3 in T20 cricket, followed by AB de Villiers at number 4. The presence of Finch will ensure that RCB have a settled opening combination in Finch and Parthiv Patel.
Patel had a good 2019 IPL, where he scored 373 runs in 14 innings. The presence of Finch will firstly ensure that there is a left-hand, right-hand combination at the top of the order. Finch has considerable experience of playing T20 cricket around the globe and can guide Patel while batting together.
Finch did not play in the 2019 season of IPL and did not have the best of times in the 2017 and 2018 IPL too. However, the Australian ODI and T20 skipper will look to get back to scoring ways in the 2020 IPL and make his presence felt.
Apart from Finch and Patel, RCB have the likes of Devdutt Padikkal and Joshua Phillippe as back up openers. The 19-year-old Padikkal was the highest run-scorer in the 2019-2020 Vijay Hazare trophy and scored consistently at the top of the order.
Joshua Phillippe too has tasted success as an opener in Big Bash cricket. If he gets an opportunity, he will look to replicate his Big Bash League performances in IPL.
Finch and Patel will look to open the batting for RCB in the initial matches and have back up openers in Padikkal and Phillippe.
#5 Chennai Super Kings
Options: Shane Watson, Faf du Plessis, Ambati Rayudu and Murli Vijay
After retiring from international cricket, Watson has been participating in T20 leagues around the world and is making his presence felt.
However, 2019 was a mixed year for Watson when he scored three half-centuries in the tournament, out of which two were in the last two games. He struggled in the remainder of the matches. It will be interesting to see if Watson will create the same impact at the top of the order for CSK as he has done in the past.
Faf du Plessis had a consistent 2019 IPL. He has a strike rate of 126.74 in IPL cricket and takes time to get going. He is not a powerful striker like Gayle or Warner. He has not been in the best of touches in 2019 and was not a part of the South African T20 squad which toured India in 2019. It will be interesting to see how Faf fares in the upcoming IPL season.
Another option for CSK at the top of the order is Ambati Rayudu. He had a prolific 2018 season at the top of the order. But an indifferent 2019 IPL may force the team management to have Rayudu bat in the middle order for the 2020 IPL season.
Murali Vijay has tasted success for CSK in the past as an opener. However. he has played just 3 matches in the last couple of seasons and has been amongst the reserves.
Watson and Faf will be the openers for CSK at the beginning of the 2020 IPL and have back up options in Rayudu and Vijay.