IPL 2020 - A getaway from grim times

back icon
18 Sep 2020 | 07:20 AM
authorSomesh Agarwal

IPL 2020 - A getaway from grim times

After months of grey news across multiple fronts, cricket is ready once again to grab attention and offer the much-needed distraction



The 2020 edition of the IPL was to start on March 29th this year. An ultra-optimistic BCCI postponed it to 14th April after an initial surge of Covid-19 cases in India. What seemed like the inevitable scenario as soon as the pandemic struck, an indefinite suspension then followed. 

For a brief period, hardly anybody cared about cricket. In a country where cricket and elections act as a unifier, the virus took precedence in thoughts and conversations.

While taking a toll on human life, the pandemic also had economic consequences. Like other sectors, cricket needed to start soon to avoid large scale pay-cuts and layoffs. Once the ECB gathered courage to get on with what was left of their home summer, talks of the IPL started to make rounds.  

The economics behind the IPL made it certain that if professional cricket is possible in the near future, IPL will take precedence over any other tournament. Thus, the ICC T20 World Cup, scheduled for this year, made way for the 13th season of the IPL. 

Overcoming the Hurdles

With the pandemic raging in the country, the initial challenge was to find a safer venue for this season. A country with a less freighting virus curve and better facilities to ensure a safer bubble for the players and officials. UAE emerged as a favourable venue as it is one of the leading sporting hubs in terms of infrastructure and has prior experience of hosting the IPL. After hosting a handful of matches in 2014, it now joins South Africa as the country other than India to host the complete tournament.

So far so good. But, the pandemic is not the only atrocity gripping India currently. China’s insensitive muscle-flexing to challenge the status quo at the Sino-Indian border led the Indian Government to ban numerous Chinese apps. The backlash over IPL’s sponsorship with Vivo, a Chinese technology company, started to create murmurs. Before the storm grew stronger the BCCI announced the suspension of its partnership with Vivo by mutual consent. 

A month before the start of the tournament, Dream XI snapped the title sponsorship for the 2020 edition. They bought the rights for 222 crores, down 50% from what Vivo pays annually, but still more than five times to 40 crores per annum that DLF paid for the first five years in 2008. Other sponsors like Unacademy, Vi (Vodafone Idea) started entering the scene. Thus, by sorting the economics, the organizers laid another issue to rest. 

It was time for the first phase of execution. After a hiatus of six months, it was certain that the players, especially Indian players, will need to start practising earlier than when they might during a regular season. To that effect, teams started arriving in the UAE in August with players acclimatizing to the bubble. 

That is when things started to turn for the worse especially for the CSK camp. Deepak Chahar and Ruturaj Gaikwad tested positive for the virus. Suresh Raina opted to return to India due to personal reasons. Harbhajan Singh, who delayed his arrival, announced that he will not be taking part this season. As CSK was to play MI in the first match of the tournament, this led to yet another uncertainty, a delay in finalizing the schedule.

However, with no more bad news, the schedule came out, with the CSK-MI rivalry slated for the opening night as planned. The only barrier now left to overcome is to see through the tournament without any misadventure.

The Conversations Around Spin

Since the announcement of the shift to UAE, there have been conversations around the teams that are better suited for the conditions. The focus is on the teams that have better spin options and batsmen better equipped against spin. A look at the batting run-rate in T20s in UAE since 2018 highlight the need for these discussions –Since 2018, the average run-rate against spin in UAE has been the second-lowest: 7.06. This will also be prominent as only three venues - Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Dubai – will host the entire tournament. With frequent use of the same surface, pitches tend to become slower and difficult to score. Hence, teams with better spin options and batsmen adept to play on slow pitches will fare better.  

However, as Deep Dasgupta pointed out in his article - the impact of spinners will vary from venue to venue. At Dubai, which will host the most back-to-back matches, there are five surfaces to play on as opposed to the usual two or three. This ensures pitches get a breathing space and decelerates wear and tear. Abu Dhabi has five strips as well with consecutive matches on the same day only once. The third venue, Sharjah, is a higher-scoring venue than the other two. Having said that, pitches especially in Dubai will start to slow down by the second half of October if not sooner.     

Indian players draw a huge crowd wherever they play. Players like MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli draw attention even during practice sessions. In addition to players being rusty after a long break, they will also have to adapt to playing under no crowds. For players like Kohli, who draw so much energy from crowd support this might take some time to get used to.   

Whenever the IPL had to shift outside the country, it has produced unexpected results. In seasons when they have featured, CSK were not one of the finalists only when a country other than India hosted some matches or the complete tournament. This suggests how open the IPL is when franchises, who build their teams according to Indian conditions, face a sudden change in itinerary. 

The year 2020 taught an entire generation to expect the unexpected. As for fans of the IPL, the next couple of months will lead to cricket coming back into their conversations.  

shareGray Share
Indian Premier League, 2020

Related Articles

Chennai Super Kings in dire need of a power hitter
An analysis into what CSK need to do in the upcoming auction in order to plug the gaps for IPL 2021
userSomesh Agarwal
12 Feb 2021
Chennai Super Kings – A blip in a historic run
Chennai Super Kings have been too stubborn with their selections and that has come back to haunt them this season
userAshish Pant
08 Nov 2020
Chink in Chennai Super Kings' armour
Player withdrawal, extended quarantine, ageing core players and lack of form has come together to thwart CSK’s campaign in this IPL.
userDillip Mohanty
03 Oct 2020
Rajasthan Royals vs Chennai Super Kings, IPL 2020, Match 4: Fantasy Preview
Here are a few tips and suggestions that might help you in creating your fantasy team for the fourth match of IPL 2020 between Rajasthan Royals and Chennai Super Kings at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium
userCricket.Com Staff
21 Sep 2020
It is time for IPL's El Clasico
After an extended hiatus, the wait is over as the fiercest rivalry in IPL is set to get underway
userSomesh Agarwal
18 Sep 2020
IPL in UAE – Fewer sixes but be prepared for enjoyable desert slugfest
In an exclusive column for cricket.com, former Indian cricketer Deep Dasgupta previews the three venues in IPL 2020
userDeep Dasgupta
16 Sep 2020
IPL 2020: The complete news timeline
What's hot, what's not, who's in, who's out. Everything that you need to know about IPL 2020 - we have it covered here!
userCricket.com staff
04 Sep 2020
Vivo will not be IPL title sponsors this year: BCCI
The BCCI is likely to float a tender for the new title sponsors as mandated by its constitution
06 Aug 2020
IPL GC Meet: Final on Nov 10, Chinese sponsors intact, COVID replacements allowed
As many as 60 matches will be played in the 53-day long tournament in UAE
02 Aug 2020
An analysis of how IPL has evolved over the years
A look at how toss results, scoring rates and the perception of spinners has changed over time
userNitin Fernandes
01 Apr 2020
Cricket like never before
Follow us on
@ 2020 cricket.com | All rights reserved