Opening batsmen of any IPL team play the most crucial role in scoring quick runs in the power-play and set the tone for the rest of the batters to come. It is for this reason that most teams decide to play their best players as openers in the league.
KL Rahul had a dream season for Punjab last time around and he will be looking forward to replicating the same performances in the upcoming season of IPL as well. David Warner is all set to return for Hyderabad while Shikhar Dhawan will be looking to prove himself in his homecoming for Delhi.
A lot of thought goes into deciding the opening combination of the team right from the auction and here we are comparing the possible openers that can be opted by the eight IPL teams for the IPL 2019 season:
#8 Rajasthan Royals
- Ajinkya Rahane
- Jos Buttler
- Rahul Tripathi
- Manan Vohra
- Sanju Samson
- Liam Livingstone
The opening Combination of Ajinkya Rahane & Jos Buttler provided RR a much-needed boost as soon as Buttler was promoted as an opener in the last IPL season with the latter piling up runs at will. Buttler will look to continue his form through to the 2019 season and give quick starts while the skipper Rahane would look to play the anchor's role.
But the opening combination runs the risk of losing Jos Buttler midway for International duties. Once he leaves, it is likely that either Manan Vohra or Rahul Tripathi will partner Rahane. But, the psychological edge that Buttler provides cannot be matched by either Vohra or Tripathi.
Sanju Samson can also open the innings for Rajasthan but is unlikely to do so as his presence will be preferred in the middle-order by the team. Using Liam Livingstone as an opener can also be an option for the Royals once Buttler leaves, but it remains to be seen how the Englishman adapts to the Indian conditions.
Overall Verdict - While the opening Combination of Ajinkya Rahane & Jos Buttler looks solid on paper, the risk of losing Jos Buttler midway looms large which can result in a musical chair being played for the vacant spot.
#7 Royal Challengers Bangalore
- Devdutt Padikkal
- Heinrich Klassen
- Parthiv Patel
- Virat Kohli
- Shimron Hetmyer (last option)
RCB will have to think through what their best opening combination will be. Last IPL season, they had proven players as their openers in Brendon Mccullum, Quinton de Kock, and Manan Vohra but still could not get the desired results. Come IPL 2019, all 3 of them were released/ traded by the Bangalore side.
In the IPL 2019 auctions, Bangalore bought the young Devdutt Padikkal and the South African Heinrich Klassen in the squad. Those two young cricketers being the opening combination of Royal Challengers Bangalore is a real possibility.
But, if Bangalore decides not to play Heinrich Klassen, a slot for an Indian wicketkeeper opens up and Parthiv Patel will be preferred ahead of Akshdeep Nath as an opener. There is also the possibility for the skipper Virat Kohli coming forward to open the innings if nothing else works out for them or even Shimron Hetmeyer.
Bangalore surely has enough options for their opening combination and it is up to them to find the best one that suits their gameplan.
Overall Verdict - Opening Combination of Devdutt/Parthiv – Heinrich Klassen /Virat Kohli can be deadly on paper but has to be proven on the pitches. Bangalore needs to find their best opening combination through trial and error and if they can find it fast enough, the results will come their way.
#6 Kolkata Knight Riders
- Chris Lynn
- Sunil Narine
- Robin Uthappa
- Joe Denly
- Shubman Gill
Kolkata Knight Riders will be expected to continue with their flamboyant opening pair of Sunil Narine and Chris Lynn with Robin Uthappa or Shubman Gill as the backup. Sunil Narine had found a new dimension to his game while opening the innings for KKR in the previous editions of IPL and was getting KKR some quick runs in the power play.
While Narine was effective against spin bowling, Chris Lynn enjoyed pace bowling. Their combination was a success and KKR will not try to bother that much.
But with Chris Lynn expected to depart in the later stages of IPL 2019, there will be a void in their opening slot. Most probably Robin Uthappa will open with Narine at that stage with middle order comprising of Nitish Rana, Shubman Gill, Dinesh Karthik and Rinku Singh to follow.
KKR might also look into the possibility of bringing Joe Denly as a straight swap for Chris Lynn as the opening partner for Narine. In that case, it remains to be seen, how well Denly adapts to the subcontinent pitches.
Overall Verdict - Opening Combination of Lynn–Narine is very dangerous. But similar to Rajasthan, the risk of losing their aggressor midway reduces the rating a bit.
Rating: 3.5 /5
#5 Sunrisers Hyderabad
- David Warner
- Wriddhiman Saha
- Jonny Bairstow
- Martin Guptill
- Shreevats Goswami
Sunrisers Hyderabad will get a huge boost to their Opening position with the return of David Warner to the squad. Even though they have parted ways with Shikhar Dhawan, Sunrisers have Wridhiman Saha to partner the Australian for the opening combination.
Sunrisers Hyderabad camp seems to have thought through the possibilities that might arise in the upcoming season and has found an answer to every question. They have Johny Bairstow to replace Warner if David Warner in his return finds a bad patch of form. They also have Martin Guptill to replace Bairstow/Warner if both of them have to leave for International duty. If Saha doesn't perform or is injured, then they have Sreevats Goswami as the backup Keeper and opener.
Johny Bairstow has been in fine form off late and will be looking to prove himself in the IPL. This season might be the one where he could showcase his skills in the IPL if Warner comes short.
Overall Verdict - Opening Combination of David Warner- Wridhiman Saha could be effective if Warner can find his feet back. Though Hyderabad has well-equipped backups, the combination may have to be reworked multiple times midway through the league – Slightly above Average.
Rating: 3.5 /5
# 4 Chennai Super Kings
- Faf du Plessis
- Shane Watson
- Murali Vijay
- Sam Billings
- Ambati Rayudu
Faf du Plessis and Shane Watson have been effective in the last IPL season taking CSK to the title glory. Watson, in fact, was a revelation with CSK. He has been one of the best all-rounders in the last IPL season.
CSK with a nearly unchanged squad will look to continue their last season success story and those 2 stalwarts will open the innings once again. Adequate reserves are also present in the CSK squad in the form of Sam Billings and Murali Vijay. Ambati Rayudu can also open in the adverse situations having done so in the IPL previously.
Shane Watson has not played much cricket in this year and it remains to be seen if he can replicate the last year's form. Considering he is 37 years old and is at the fag end of his career, he might be looking forward to that last one leap in the IPL 2019 season.
Overall Verdict - Opening Combination of Faf du Plessis & Shane Watson looks extremely good and the Chennai side has good backups as well.
# 3 Kings XI Punjab
- KL Rahul
- Chris Gayle
- Nicholas Pooran
- Mayank Agarwal
Nicholas Pooran has been added to the Kings XI squad and is a refreshing addition. He poses a challenge to Chris Gayle for the opening slot alongside KL Rahul. Though Mayank Agarwal is an opener himself, he is unlikely to get the nod above Rahul and will have to be satisfied with the No.3 position.
KL Rahul - Chris Gayle combination was effective in the last edition of IPL and if both the players are in good touch, it will get the ball rolling for Punjab. Nicholas Pooran can come in if Gayle doesn’t perform or is injured while Mayank Agarwal can open if KL Rahul gets injured or is having a poor run of form. To get the reality into context, the bad patch of form which both these players are going through might be a concern for Kings XI Punjab.
Overall Verdict - Opening Combination of KL Rahul & Chris Gayle looks deadly and the Punjab side has like for like backups for both the players.
# 2 Mumbai Indians
- Rohit Sharma
- Suryakumar Yadav
- Quinton de Kock
- Evin Lewis
- Aditya Tare
Mumbai Indians only had to fix a few leaks here and there in the 2019 IPL auctions as they had a pretty well-framed squad ready for the battle. Prior to the auctions, Mumbai had traded in Quinton de Kock from Bangalore as a replacement for Evin Lewis.
Once that was done, their Opening combination was all set. Surya Kumar Yadav is expected to partner either Evin Lewis or Quinton de Kock for Mumbai Indians in the IPL 2019 season. Whoever, among de Kock and Lewis, grabs the first opportunity, will definitely get a longer run into the tournament.
But after the IPL 2019 auctions, there comes another possibility of Rohit Sharma opening the innings for Mumbai in IPL 2019. Mumbai was missing a proper middle order batsman in the previous seasons. That was primarily one of the reasons why Rohit Sharma had to come down the order and play in the middle order. With Mumbai buying Yuvraj Singh in the 2019 auctions, they do have one.
It is to be seen whether Rohit will replace Suryakumar Yadav at the opening slot, but the option is now available with the Mumbai team management. Surya Kumar Yadav, being the versatile player that he is, can play as the finisher for the team along with Kieron Pollard and Pandya brothers.
Overall Verdict - Opening Combination of Suryakumar Yadav/Rohit Sharma- Evin Lewis/Quinton de Kock could be termed as one of the best possible opening combinations in the 2019 IPL season which will be exciting to watch.
# 1 Delhi Capitals
- Prithvi Shaw
- Shikhar Dhawan
- Colin Munro
- Jalaj Saxena
- Hanuma Vihari
With the inclusion of Shikhar Dhawan into the scheme of things, Delhi Capitals have a major advantage in terms of their opening combination. The youngest Indian star Prithvi Shaw will partner Shikhar Dhawan which can be termed as one of the best Indian opening combinations in the league.
Delhi also has the services of Colin Munro as a possible foreign opener, but he may have to wait for his opportunity as neither Shikhar nor Prithvi can be easily replaced from the squad. The experienced all-rounder Jalaj Saxena who has been opening for Kerala in the Ranji Trophy matches with considerable success can also be a possible backup opener.
Overall Verdict - Opening Combination of Prithvi Shaw & Shikhar Dhawan could be termed as one of the best possible opening combinations in the 2019 IPL season. Plus the presence of adequate backups in the squad takes the rating a notch higher.
Rating: 4.5 /5