The 2020 edition of the IPL, the most popular T20 tournament in the world, will kick off next month. Teams are working overtime to formulate strategies for the first IPL tournament to be played in the UAE.
A strong opening combination is key to success in the T20 competition. Historically, teams with stable and effective opening combinations have done well in the IPL. If the openers are able to provide blistering starts and make full use of the powerplay overs, that helps lay a strong foundation for the batsmen to follow.
On that note, we take a look at the three most destructive opening combinations set to feature in IPL 2020.
Three most destructive opening combinations in IPL 2020:
#3. Rohit Sharma - Quinton de Kock (Mumbai Indians)
Despite all the success at the international level, Rohit Sharma hasn't been able to perform to his staggering standards in the past three seasons of the IPL.
The Mumbai Indians skipper has averaged below 30 in each of the last three IPL seasons. In his defence, though, it could be said that Sharma batted mostly in the middle order for most of this period.
However, he also opened quite regularly last season. Sharma got quite a few starts but couldn't convert them into big ones; IPL 2020 will be an opportunity for him to make amends in this regard.
The move to buy Quinton de Kock from Royal Challengers Bangalore in the trade window ahead of IPL 2019 paid rich dividends for Mumbai Indians as the South African played a key role in MI's title win. The free-flowing De Kock gave the Mumbai Indians strong starts as he finished as the third-highest run-getter in IPL 2019, with over 500 runs.
#2. David Warner - Jonny Bairstow (Sunrisers Hyderabad)
The pairing of David Warner and Jonny Bairstow was one of the most looked-forward-to pair in IPL 2019, considering the traditional rivalry between their two national sides.
The dynamic duo did not disappoint fans as they provided several blistering starts to Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) and helped them reach the playoffs. While Warner had a lot to prove as he was making a comeback in the IPL following the infamous ball-tampering saga, Bairstow was featuring in his debut IPL season.
Both the players ended up performing exceedingly well throughout the season. Bairstow scored 445 runs in ten games at a brilliant average of 55.62 and an outstanding strike rate of 157.24. Warner went a notch better, winning the orange cap after finishing with 692 runs at a staggering average of 69.2.
Warner, who will be back as the SRH captain in IPL 2020, and Bairstow will undoubtedly be one of the most dreaded batting pairs in the competition.
#1. KL Rahul - Chris Gayle (Kings XI Punjab)
KL Rahul's staggering form in white-ball cricket in the last year or so might have been a significant reason behind Kings XI Punjab's decision to hand over the captaincy reigns to him ahead of IPL 2020.
While Rahul's ODI average during this period was a brilliant 70, his T20 average was an impressive 53.83. It is evident that Rahul has worked on his consistency and has matured as a player.
The newly appointed Kings XI Punjab skipper has been a star performer for the IPL franchise ever since he joined them in 2018. While he amassed 659 runs in the IPL in 2018, he scored 593 runs in IPL 2019 to end up as the second-highest run-getter in the competition that season.
Rahul will be confident of carrying his side to their first-ever IPL title win and would expect senior players of the team, like his opening partner Chris Gayle, to shoulder more responsibilities.
Gayle, who has thought to have approached the end of a glorious career, has done quite well in Kings XI Punjab colours. The Jamaican has averaged over 40 in each of the two IPL seasons for the franchise, giving them rollicking starts.
If both Rahul and Gayle are in full flow in IPL 2020, there may be no hiding place for opposition bowlers.