The suspended marquee Indian Premier League is up and running for its remainder. But, unlike the first half, the rest of the matches will be played in the UAE. The 2020 edition of IPL in the UAE was a successful stint. Moreover, with the World T20 ahead in October at the same venues, the IPL 2021 would be the perfect preparation for all the players involved.
The Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi and Dubai International Stadium had identical surfaces. Only the surface at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium was different in the first few matches, but as the tournament progressed, it slowed down. However, for this season, most of the wickets will be fresh as half of the tournament is already over. All the three venues were different in few aspects, here are a few of the prominent ones:
Chasing, a difficult feat in the first half but easy in the second
In a generation where chasing is fancied by each and every team, irrespective of the pitch or the size of the grounds, the three venues of UAE in the last season had contrasting results to the trend in the first half of the season. Especially in Dubai and Sharjah, chasing was a nightmare in the first 30 matches. Out of the 14 matches played at Dubai, only two of them were won by teams chasing, and in Sharjah, only once in six matches. Batting was a difficult feat because of the regular interval of wickets. Teams were losing wickets every 15.9 balls in Dubai and 15.5 balls in Sharjah.
However, the tables turned completely in the next 30 matches. Teams batting second won eight out of the 12 matches in Dubai, all six in Sharjah and nine out of 12 at Abu Dhabi. Hence, batting as well was completely different from the first half. In Dubai, wickets fell every 21 balls, in Sharjah, it was 43.9 and in Abu Dhabi, every 27 balls.
The One where boundaries flowed like water
In Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the boundary size was different compared to Sharjah. The smaller boundaries meant a lot of boundaries, especially the maximums. In Sharjah, 62.8 percent of the runs came through fours and sixes. Every match saw nearly 18 sixes, nine sixes per innings and every 12.6 balls there had a six written over it. In comparison, Dubai witnessed six every 20.4 balls and in Abu Dhabi, every 24 balls.
The one with the butter fingers
One of the aspects that go unnoticed is fielding. Across the three venues in the last season, the catching was a problem of plenty, especially in the outfield. Sharjah was one of the worst affected venues. Overall in Sharjah, fielders had a catching efficiency of 76.7 percent, the lowest of the three. Followed by Dubai with 77.9 percent and Abu Dhabi at 80.6 percent.
As mentioned, the drop in catching efficiency was majorly affected because of the outfield drops. In all three venues, fielders had a catching efficiency of over 80 percent in the in-field. But, in none of the venues, the outfield efficiency was more than 77. Sharjah had the worst catching efficiency (66.7 percent) outside the 30-yard circle.
Spinners had to thrive hard
Generally, in subcontinent pitches, spinners have the wood over pacers. However, in the 2020 season of IPL, spinners had to strive for wickets. It’s just not in one venue, in all three, spinners failed to make an early impact. Abu Dhabi had a balls/dismissal ratio of 28.5, Sharjah with 28.2 and Dubai saw spinners bagging a wicket every 25.5 balls. In IPL Since 2017, among venues that have seen six or more matches, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah are the worst venues for spinners in terms of balls/dismissal and Dubai is at fifth spot in this list.
The one where wickets fell in heap in powerplay while chasing
While chasing a target, keeping wickets intact is a crucial facet. In particular at Dubai, that was the forefront criteria for wins in a chase. In the first six overs of the first innings, teams lost only one wicket on an average and scored 46.9 runs per wicket at a balls/dismissal ratio of 36. In contrast, while chasing, on average 1.9 wickets were lost at 23 runs per wicket and balls/dismissal ratio of 18.7. In comparison with the other two venues, Dubai was the worst in terms of balls/dismissal ratio. In Abu Dhabi, wickets fell every 26.4, and in Sharjah at 54 during this phase.