The Indian Premier League is all set to start off from Saturday, and the teams are in full readiness to get it underway. With the IPL being scheduled in the UAE, a whole new set of conditions, different from that in India kicks in for the teams to look into. With conditions getting changed, the factors defining a team’s win also changes big time as the tournament progresses.
Here, we look into some of the big changes teams might face going into the tournament.
The whole concept of home games, where a team can play seven of the 14 league games at a familiar venue, ceases its existence now, as this time, the teams have a home base rather than a home ground. Six franchises(Royal Challengers Bangalore, Delhi Capitals, Chennai Super Kings, Sunrisers Hyderabad, Kings XI Punjab, Rajasthan Royals) have their home base as Dubai and the other two franchises(Mumbai Indians, Kolkata Knight Riders) have their home base in Abu Dhabi, which means around half of the former six franchises’ matches will take place at the Dubai International Stadium, and around half of Mumbai and KKR’s matches will take place in Abu Dhabi.
Going by records, Dubai and Abu Dhabi are not that different in terms of ground conditions, which means almost every team will have a fair idea about the ground conditions, thus completely finishing off the home ground advantage.
However, Sharjah, which will host each of the eight teams for three matches apiece, have significantly different ground conditions, but as Sharjah has not been assigned a home base for any team, no team will enjoy the advantage of Sharjah’s unique conditions.
Slowness of the pitch
Although the start might not that be slow, the pitches are bound to get slower, especially at the Dubai International stadium, which will be hosting 24 matches in a span of just 40 days. With the pitches getting slower, matches will turn out low-scoring affairs. With the likes of Chinnaswamy, Wankhede, Eden Gardens, Dharamsala etc, easily crossing 200-run mark these days back in India, the franchises generally have a team heavily oriented for high-scoring affairs, which they would have to adjust with as the tournament moves along.
Running between the wickets
Back in India, over the last three seasons of the IPL, a six has been hit every 17 balls at the home venues from the likes of Hardik Pandy, Rohit Sharma and Andre Russel, where as the ground at Abu Dhabi where both Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders will play eight matches each has a record of a six being hit every 49 balls over the past three years. This would mean, the teams would have to heavily focus on their running between the wickets rather than concentrating only on boundaries.
Spin to Win?
Spin is not the first option in the UAE, it has never been. Successful teams in the UAE, like the Islamabad United, Quetta Gladiators and Peshawar Zalmi in the PSL, have always had a left-arm quick in their side, and have relied heavily on the quick bowlers for wickets over the years. Spinners in the UAE have always played a secondary role in a team’s bowling attack. Dubai has an average of 7.3 overs of spin, while Sharjah averages 7 and Abu Dhabi averages 6.3 overs of spin in T20 cricket over the past three years which is much lower than that of venues like Chennai back in India which averages 10.3 overs(more than half the innings). IPL teams, who loves to rely on spin during the middle-stages of the game, need to look for proper strategies to tackle this.