The competition in the Indian Premier League is getting heftier with each season as the bowlers are trying every way to overcome the batsmen and vice-versa.
The pacers like Jasprit Bumrah, Dwayne Bravo, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jofra Archer, Lasith Malinga, Deepak Chahar, Mohammed Shami are widening their arsenal with knuckle-balls, slower bumpers, back of the hand slower balls whereas spinners like Sunil Narine, Kuldeep Yadav, Rashid Khan, Yuzvendra Chahal, Shreyas Gopal, R. Ashwin and others adding the flavor of mystery in their tank.
In T20 cricket, especially in the Indian Premier League, more often than not the matches go till the last over. Since the top 3 can’t help win games in every match, the need for specialists in the middle becomes substantial who can rebuild the innings during the times of trouble as there is not enough time in a 20-overs game to build a partnership cautiously.
Here are the batting pairs for each IPL franchise who can rebuild and attack the opposition bowlers even when there is a top-order failure.
#1 MS Dhoni & Ambati Rayudu (Chennai Super Kings)
Chennai Super Kings are blessed to have one of the most successful middle-order batsmen in international cricket by their side since the inception of the Indian Premier League. In all these years, MS Dhoni has won them numerous games single-handedly and though he has reached the declining stage of his career, the 38-year-old still has it to take the burden on his shoulders. Dhoni has been one of the top-run getters for CSK in most of the IPL seasons even after batting lower down the order.
Apart from the former Indian captain, Ambati Rayudu has also been on fire. He mostly opened the batting for CSK initially, but whenever he batted at no. 4 or 5, the 34-year-old helped the men in yellow in crossing the line.
#2 Rishabh Pant & Shimron Hetmyer (Delhi Capitals)
Rishabh Pant came into limelight as a young prodigy who can muscle the ball all over the park. But over the years, he has turned into the backbone for Delhi Capitals and is always in high demand when the top 3 fails to convert their starts. The 22-year-old wicket-keeper batsman ended up as the highest and second-highest run-scorer for Delhi Capitals in the 2018 and 2019 editions respectively.
DC struggled once again last year whenever their top-order failed as they put the onus on a lone warrior. But this year they have managed to correct that by signing Shimron Hetmyer, the Caribbean southpaw who was impressive against India on their recent tour and DC’s success will depend upon the success of this pair of left-handers in the upcoming edition of the IPL.
With both these strikers in the team, the Delhi-based franchise might feel relaxed in case their Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, and Shreyas Iyer have a bad day together.
#3 Glenn Maxwell & Nicholas Pooran (Kings XI Punjab)
Kings XI Punjab might have hit the spot when their old son returned to their squad after spending a hefty amount of INR 10.75 crores on him. Last year, KXIP heavily banked upon their top order to do the bulk of the scoring as a result of which they struggled in the second half of their batting innings on most of the occasions with a misfiring middle-order.
Things might be different for them in IPL 2020 as they have two in-form strikers in their side who are expected to feature in the XI regularly. Nicholas Pooran has scored a lot of runs on the recent India tour, where he dominated both seamers and spinners and Maxwell who is in exquisite touch as evident in the ongoing Big Bash League.
Even if their fatal top-order including the universe boss Chris Gayle, skipper KL Rahul, and in-form Mayank Agarwal fail, KXIP can now bank upon this pair to take them to a decent total and put the pressure back on the opposition.
#4 Andre Russell & Dinesh Karthik (Kolkata Knight Riders)
Kolkata Knight Riders will continue to bank upon their skipper Dinesh Karthik and the most ferocious hitter of the cricket ball, Andre Russell. There is no hesitation in saying that the big West Indian all-rounder can turn the game on its head in a matter of just 10 balls with even his edges clearing the fence with ease. With the value that he provides, KKR on several occasions has even risked a half-injured Russell in their team.
On the other side, Dinesh Karthik provides a sense of calmness with a hint of an unorthodox touch that makes his striking effortless.
KKR’s top order comprises the youngster Shubman Gill, Sunil Narine, and Nitish Rana which looks a bit fragile. But this combination of fire and ice is what makes KKR one of the most dangerous sides even if their top 3 fails and they will continue to serve the same purpose in the upcoming IPL season.
#5 Kieron Pollard & Hardik Pandya (Mumbai Indians)
Kieron Pollard has been a part of Mumbai Indians for over a decade and he has deserved his spot in the side for such a long time. The 32-year-old batsman might be a bit inconsistent but when he is in mood, he can surely take MI over the line no, irrespective of their condition. His ability to hit the spinners using long stride is what makes him dangerous in the middle-overs.
Hardik Pandya has been the find for Mumbai Indians, who has become an integral part of their set up. The Indian all-rounder has tasted success for years and MI has been smart to utilize his capabilities to the fullest. The ferocious hitting capabilities that these two possess have helped MI turn the table on its head countlessly.
Having the two clever strikers on their side, the 4-time champs can never be ruled out by the oppositions in case Rohit Sharma, Quinton de Kock, and Chris Lynn fail as a top-order.
#6 Steve Smith & Ben Stokes (Rajasthan Royals)
Steve Smith is in the form of his life since his comeback after a one-year ban and has helped Australia retain the Ashes almost single-handedly. He has managed to extend his red-ball form into the limited-overs cricket and has been the backbone for the Australian team. Coming to IPL, he will be crucial for Rajasthan Royals in rebuilding with his unorthodox style of batting when their top 3 fails to perform.
Ben Stokes is an attacking batsman by nature and will be the one to support the skipper during the hardships. The 28-year-old has dominated the bowlers in Indian conditions at the international level and has been one of the key batsmen for any side he plays for. An example of the danger that he brings when he comes to bat is his maiden IPL century that he scored batting at number 5.
Rajasthan Royals are blessed to have these two providing a cushion to the likes of Jos Buttler, Robin Uthappa, and Sanju Samson as their top-order batsmen.
#7 AB de Villiers & Shivam Dube (Royal Challengers Bangalore)
AB de Villiers needs no introduction when it comes to batting and Royal Challengers Bangalore has depended on him and Virat Kohli to score most of the runs. The team combination has been such that AB de Villiers was forced to bat at 3 while the skipper opened the innings but with the addition of the Aussie opener and limited-overs captain, the former South African skipper can slide back to number 4 spot to back the top 3 of Parthiv Patel, Aaron Finch, and Virat Kohli in case they break down.
Along with AB, Shivam Dube might play a significant role to support the senior batsman and help his team recover in case of a collapse. The youngster has seen an upward curve in the last 12 months of his career and has even made it to the Indian Cricket Team where skipper Virat Kohli has shown high faith in him by sending him in at 5 ahead of the more experienced Manish Pandey in the ongoing T20I series against NZ.
#8 Manish Pandey & Vijay Shankar (Sunrisers Hyderabad)
Sunrisers Hyderabad has a ferocious top-order with David Warner, Jonny Bairstow, and skipper Kane Williamson on heir side and they have often struggled in the final overs if one of the top 3 doesn’t stay till the end. Coming to the 2020 edition of the IPL, they have wiped out the underperforming options like Yusuf Pathan and Deepak Hooda and will bank on the Indian duo of Manish Pandey and Vijay Shankar to rebuild the innings if the top 3 fails.
Manish Pandey has been disappointing for SRH and had an ordinary show with the bat before finding form in the second half of the 2019 season. He has been in and out of the Indian T20I side but has been roaring in the domestic circuit with a purple-patch recently.
On the other hand, Vijay Shankar has tasted success in the past and will play a crucial role to support Pandey in rebuilding and help SRH reach competitive totals when their top-order has a bad day.