With a secure bio-bubble environment and various other preventive measures in place, the Indian Premier League (IPL) has already started in Dubai. Only once before has a whole tournament been shifted to an entirely different country – IPL 2009 by South Africa themselves.
There’s no doubt that shifting the entire league to a whole new country comes with its own set of problems. For instance, very few players of all the 8 franchises have the experience of playing in Dubai. Also, the Dubai pitch is a bit slower while Sharjah is flat. Abu Dhabi has a bit of something for pacers.
That being said, the key lies in players adapting to the playing conditions in the UAE. So, we at cricketbettingtips.io, give you an insight into how teams will adapt to UAE conditions in the 13th edition of the IPL. We also have various other high-quality articles about the game, and if you’re someone who’s into cricket betting, then we offer a list of the best cricket betting apps and sites so that fans can easily wager on their favourite sport.
The conditions in the UAE
There’s so much talk about the quarantine and safety of players that the on-field challenges seem to have taken a backseat. The conditions in the UAE are quite different than that of India and it will be a tough task for all the 8 franchises to align their squad to perform in UAE.
Factor this in. Most IPL teams build their squad for home conditions based on the city they’re in. Mumbai Indians, for instance, have the most dangerous top-order for the Wankhede Stadium. The logic here is to maximize the points with the home games each season and squeeze in some wins in away games to be qualified for the play-offs.
In this edition of the IPL, all the 8 franchises have a set squad that will play 14 away games. The weather in UAE is hot, leading to soil crumbling and slow and low pitches. So, getting a big score is a challenge here. Abu Dhabi, for example, has seen only one 200-plus score in the 45 T20I played there.
Also, the grounds at Abu Dhabi have long boundaries which makes hitting boundaries and sixes a difficult task. The Dubai pitch is generally slower in nature while Sharjah is flat. And Abu Dhabi has a bit of something for the pacers. The different nature of all the three stadiums will pose a challenge for the 8 franchises. Also, the limited number of pitches could cause the bounce on the wicket to get the pace slowed as the IPL progresses. This is evident from the 2019 World T20 Qualifiers in Dubai, where the pitches took turn initially and then became flatter as the tournament progressed.
The change in venue and conditions will require players to adapt quickly, says RCB coach Simon Katich
“When we had the auction, we were planning a squad assuming we’ll play half of our matches at the Chinnaswamy Stadium. When you have a high-scoring venue as your home ground, that factors into the makeup of your squad. And looking at the playing conditions at away stadiums, we felt we had balance in the squad. Now with UAE, there’s indeed a slight variation but conditions here are as close as it could get to India given the heat, humidity and the wickets we’ll be playing on. The key lies in the players adapting quickly to the playing conditions after such a long break,” Simon Katich was quoted as saying by Times of India.
Although there has not been much cricket played since the start of the year, Katich said that a lot of cricket will be played in a short span of time, and is not lost on the team.
“Obviously there has been little cricket action, so it’ll indeed be interesting to see how pitches play. A lot of cricket will be played in a short period of time and knowing the hot and dry conditions in Dubai, we’ll see some challenging wickets. That will present a different style of cricket at times, which will be exciting as well. If the bowlers have a little bit in this league, then it would be interesting to see how batsmen cope,” Katich added.
For Mike Hesson, RCB’s director of cricket operation, the focus is now on ensuring that the players don’t proceed on guesswork. “We’ve spent a lot of time since we knew that the IPL was being shifted to the UAE. Abu Dhabi is a bigger ground and Sharjah is quite different from others. We’ve gathered a huge amount of data at every venue and we’re aware of all the statistics surrounding certain players and certain grounds. We’ve gathered all that information from a variety of tournaments over the past few years.”
Elaborating further, Hesson added, “we’ve gathered as much information so that we’re not flying blind when we start our training. We know prevailing winds, and what it does at day and night. Nothing comes as a surprise to us.”
Experienced players must share their knowledge with youngsters: Rohit Sharma
With a lot of players having little experience of playing in the UAE, Mumbai Indians captain Rohit Sharma said that the responsibility is on the experienced players to share their knowledge of the conditions with young players.
“It will be a challenge for us to adapt to the conditions there. Not many players from our group have played there. It’s important for players who have been there before to share their experience with the others,” Rohit Sharma was quoted as saying by The Hindu.
In 2014, when the IPL was partially played in the UAE, MI had lost all its five games. But Rohit pointed out that this won’t have any bearing on the 2020 campaign since only 2-3 players from this squad were a part of the 2014 team.
“The team and the staff are different from that of 2014, so we’re looking forward and want to put out a good performance and want to start well.”
Head coach Mahela Jayewardene said that the management has taken a conscious decision of providing players with the option of travelling with their families to mentally cope with living in the bio-bubble.
“A lot of players will be away even after the IPL as they have international commitments. One of the ideas was to create an environment in the hotel where everyone is being looked after well. Most of the players have come with their families so it’s a good thing that they’re spending time with them, Jayewardene said.
There is a silver lining, says analyst Sriram Somayujala
While the matches are already being played, for the strategist it’s about simplifying things in the lead-up of the league. For Sriram Somayujala, who has worked as an analyst with various T10 and T20 teams across the globe, there is a silver lining.
“As far as my duty is concerned, I have to work only for three different venues. And this is only a time-saver for me. The grounds are studied based on certain metrics, and things like the proportions of the ground, the type of wicket, the size of boundaries etc. will help us with our plans,” Somayujala said in an interaction with Cricbuzz.
“The pitches will obviously be fresh for at least the first few games, but there will also be a big dew factor at these venues. So, I’m guessing that teams will start preferring to chase at venues like Abu Dhabi and Sharjah,” he added.
Sunrisers Hyderabad analyst Shrinvias Chandrasekaran has also been following the same pattern as Somayujala. “Moving to UAE will still work in our favour because we generally play on a good wicket in Hyderabad, it’s generally a flat wicket. You expect a similar kind of surface in Dubai, with the dimension being quite similar. Abu Dhabi has a bigger venue which none of the bowlers will complain about.”
“So, if you take a look at that aspect, Dubai is very similar to what we play on. In Abu Dhabi, it still seems like you’re playing in Jaipur because the surface is also on the slower side. And once you go to Sharjah, it’s more like how you bowl at Chinnaswamy,” he added.