In the Indian Premier League (IPL), a team's best batsmen are expected to play most of the overs, given the fast-paced nature on the T20 format. The leading run-scorers in the history of the IPL are understandably all top-order batsmen - Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma and David Warner - and make the most of the hard new ball.
5 IPL legends who might not get to open this year
In the 2020 IPL as well, the favourite contenders for the Orange Cap are all top-order batsmen, and mostly openers. However, in this year's tournament, some regular openers might be pushed down the order due to better options at their team's disposal.
Here are 5 IPL legends who might not get to bat at their preferred opening slot.
#5 Ajinkya Rahane
Ajinkya Rahane's trade to the Delhi Capitals (DC) came as a shock, given how closely he has been associated with the Rajasthan Royals (RR) over the past few years in the IPL. And the move might turn out to not benefit both parties involved.
In Shikhar Dhawan and Prithvi Shaw, DC have an Indian opening combination that can be backed to produce the goods. While the young right-hander will be entrusted with taking the bowlers on in the powerplay, Dhawan will be the ideal supporting cast and will anchor the innings.
Given how solid the Dhawan-Shaw partnership looks, Rahane, whose approach to the T20 format is largely similar to the former's, might not get to open. This is, of course, if the Indian Test vice-captain makes the playing XI at all. He has himself stated that he is ready to bat anywhere for the team, and could take up a role at No. 4 or No. 5 following Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant.
#4 Faf du Plessis
Faf du Plessis has played at a number of positions for the Chennai Super Kings (CSK), but he most recently played as an opener alongside Shane Watson in IPL 2019. And in this year's tournament, the South African might not be given an opening slot due to the acquisition of Sam Curran and the withdrawal of Suresh Raina.
If Murali Vijay is trusted to open alongside Shane Watson or even Ambati Rayudu, Du Plessis could find himself at No. 3 or even No. 4. CSK could even opt for a left-field choice by promoting Curran to the top of the order, leaving the former Proteas skipper to come in at the fall of a wicket or two.
In the absence of Raina, Du Plessis could lend some much-needed solidity to the middle order and having played the role for his country throughout his career, he will be well equipped for the job.
#3 Ambati Rayudu
Another player whose batting position might be sacrificed by the withdrawal of Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu could also be pushed to No. 3 or No. 4 alongside Du Plessis. The Hyderabad batsman came in at No. 4 for the major part of last year's IPL and played at the position for his previous franchise, the Mumbai Indians (MI), as well.
Rayudu playing after the openers would lend some balance and solidity, and if he were to play the anchor role, the other middle order batsmen among MS Dhoni, Kedar Jadhav and Dwayne Bravo could play attacking roles around him.
This seems like the most likely option that CSK will pursue in IPL 2020, which leaves Rayudu resigned to lose the opening slot at which he's had so much success for the team in the previous editions of IPL.
#2 Robin Uthappa
Robin Uthappa revitalised his career at the top of the order for the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) by forming a productive partnership with Gautam Gambhir, but in recent IPL seasons, he has been demoted in favour of the Chris Lynn-Sunil Narine tandem. The Karnataka-born batsman's run-scoring also immediately took a hit, and he has been a shadow of the Orange Cap winner he once was.
At the Rajasthan Royals (RR), who have a solid opener in Jos Buttler and other options in Yashasvi Jaiswal, Manan Vohra and Sanju Samson, Uthappa might not get to open the innings. The Jaipur-based franchise have a rich history of promoting young Indian talent, and even the consistent Samson could be made to bat at No. 3 in favour of Jaiswal, pushing Uthappa further down the order.
While the 34-year-old hasn't had much success lower down the order, the added responsibility that he will have to undertake in a youthful RR team might see him elevate his game to the standards it was once at.
#1 Rohit Sharma
MI skipper Rohit Sharma is one of the greatest white-ball openers the game of cricket has ever seen but in a stacked top order, even he might come in at No. 3. New signing Chris Lynn is one of the most destructive openers the IPL has ever seen, and the Australian could form a lethal opening partnership with Quinton de Kock.
Both Lynn and De Kock are perfectly suited to the opener's role, and would be wasted elsewhere. Rohit, on the other hand, has batted in the middle order for both the Indian team and the Deccan Chargers. Moreover, he has also batted at the position for MI in the past and could make the sacrifice to allow his overseas players to bat where they are most comfortable.
Irrespective of where Rohit, De Kock and Lynn bat, it is safe to say that the trio makes up perhaps the IPL's most fearsome top order.