Analysing the Top 3 Opening Pairs in IPL 2020: Who was Best?

Analysing the Top 3 Opening Pairs in IPL 2020: Who was Best? | A close look at the top 3 opening pairs in IPL 2020: Who was the best?

The 13th edition of the Indian Premier League has been one of the tournament’s most competitive editions yet. It was a great spectacle to watch the top batsmen from all eight different franchises, as this season also saw several close games, keeping audiences on the edge of their seats throughout with the quality of cricket on offer.

The role of the openers has evolved into a significant one; earlier it was more about giving the team a good start and set a platform for the batsmen to follow. Now, there’s an additional responsibility on the openers to stay out in the middle for the maximum number of overs. At least one of the openers should go on and make a big score – whether it’s a run chase or setting a total. If a team has a settled opening pair then more often than not that team is expected to do well in any series or tournament.

The importance of having two good openers in a team can never be undermined, especially when it comes to big tournaments like IPL. So, let’s have a look at the three most impactful opening pairs of IPL 2020:

3. Devdutt Padikkal and Aaron Finch

Innings: 11, Runs: 436, Balls: 327, Run Rate: 8.0, Avg: 39.6, Boundary percentage: 53.21, Dot percentage: 40.67

Devdutt Padikkal, Devdutt Padikkal RCB, Devdutt Padikkal IPL, Devdutt Padikkal domestic cricket, Devdutt Padikkal runs upl
Analysing the Top 3 Opening Pairs in IPL 2020: Devdutt Padikkal played well.

The Royal Challengers Bangalore has a history of having good openers with the likes of Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli and Parthiv Patel contributing at the top of the order. This year was no different as the newly-formed opening pair of Aaron Finch and Devdutt Padikkal gave their team good starts right from the opening game vs the Sunrisers Hyderabad thanks to an opening stand of 90 runs.

The senior partner Aaron Finch played second-fiddle to the debutant Padikkal, who took the attacking role with aplomb. And the story remained the same till the backend of the season with young Padikkal being the aggressor with Finch playing the supporting role from the other end. Despite Finch’s struggle with the bat, RCB management kept backing him as the opening pair seemed to have a good understanding between each other. With Finch struggling to fire from one end, Padikkal made sure that the pressure is on the bowling side and not on his partner.

Padikkal displayed a sanguine demeanor right from ball one he faced in his IPL career and thwarted the bowlers throughout the tournament. He ended up outscoring the likes of Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers to be the highest run-scorer of his team. A major role was played by RCB’s openers in the team’s success this year.

2. David Warner & Jonny Bairstow

Innings: 10, Runs: 420, Balls: 302, Run rate: 8.34, Average: 42, Boundary percentage: 53.81, Dot ball percentage: 40.07

Analysing the Top 3 Opening Pairs in IPL 2020: Who was Best? | A close look at the top 3 opening pairs in IPL 2020: Who was the best?
Analysing the Top 3 Opening Pairs in IPL 2020: Warner & Bairstow was a dangerous partnership in 2019 and 2020.

This opening pair undoubtedly is one of the most destructive ones in the history of the cash-rich league. David Warner, captain of SRH, has been a prolific run-scorer making him one of the best batsmen to take part in this tournament.

His partner, Jonny Bairstow, has been a quintessential opening batsman for his franchise since his IPL debut last year. The duo was the most successful opening pair of the last season and was expected to do the same thing this season.

In the first half, it seemed like Warner was struggling with his form at the top, while Bairstow was looking to make the most of the powerplay restrictions early in the innings. However, in comparison with last year, they weren’t at their dominating best this season. The numbers will show that they scored at a decent rate (8.34) and the boundary percentage (53.81) too was up there with the other duos. Jonny’s injury in the second half meant that they’ve to go with Wriddhiman Saha/Shreevats Goswami to partner Warner at the top for the last few games.

Still, their impactful performances together make them the second-best opening pair of the IPL 2020.

3. KL Rahul & Mayank Agarwal

Innings: 11, Runs: 671, Balls faced: 456, Run Rate 8.83, Average: 61.0, Boundary percentage: 56.63, Dot ball percentage: 32.02

Analysing the Top 3 Opening Pairs in IPL 2020: Who was Best? | A close look at the top 3 opening pairs in IPL 2020: Who was the best?
Analysing the Top 3 Opening Pairs in IPL 2020: Mayank Agarwal and KL Rahul had a strong partnership.

KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal are long-time best friends who play for the same domestic side.

With KL being the regular KXIP opener since 2018, it was all down to who’ll open with him. Many experts predicted that Chris Gayle will open with KL Rahul, considering their record in the past. But to everyone’s surprise, it was Mayank who opened with KL in the first game of the season. The fashion in which they batted together in their first game set the tone for the remaining games of the season. With a renowned name like Chris Gayle in the hut, waiting for his opportunity, there was always pressure on Agarwal to keep ticking the boxes. And he did everything right to cement his place with his captain at the top.

The two complemented each other well and compiled big runs for their team. With KL playing the role of sheet anchor this year, it was on Mayank’s shoulders to up the ante in the powerplay overs. The most impressive part about their partnerships was the dot ball percentage (32.02), second-best after Warner and Saha, and the best if you consider opening pairs who batted at least 10 innings together. They were equally good at finding the boundaries and pacing the team’s innings at a healthy rate.

Kings XI Punjab had a highly fluctuating season, encapsulated by massive upsurge and downfall before being eliminated in their last league match. The Karnataka duo of Agarwal and Rahul form arguably the best opening pair of the recently concluded IPL. Together they also claimed the record of the highest ever opening partnership for KXIP: 183 vs RR, Sharjah. This also is the third-highest opening stand in history of the league.

Also read: Top 10 batting knocks of IPL 2020 – Did KL Rahul play the best innings?

Honorable Mentions (small sample size, less than five innings):

Quinton de Kock & Ishan Kishan:

  • Innings: 4, Runs: 228, Balls: 174
  • Run Rate: 7.86, Average: 76, Boundary percentage: 64.91, Dot-ball percentage: 42.53.

David Warner & Wriddhiman Saha:

  • Innings: 3, Runs: 268, Balls: 169
  • Run rate: 9.51, Average: 134, Boundary percentage: 57.46, Dot-ball percentage: 28.40.

Overall Numerical Analysis of the Openers:

Analysing the Top 3 Opening Pairs in IPL 2020: Who was Best? | A close look at the top 3 opening pairs in IPL 2020: Who was the best?
Analysing the Top 3 Opening Pairs in IPL 2020: The numbers of the top opening combinations.

Written by Vaibhav Tripathi. Follow Vaibhav on Twitter today.