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Indian T20 League 2020 venue analysis: Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah

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The Indian T20 League is set to take off in two weeks and we can't stop anticipating how the UAE pitch conditions will alter the play this time. While a part of the 2014 edition of the Indian T20 League was hosted in the UAE, this time the franchises will face a completely different terrain for the entire tournament, which could mean different strategies and difference in thinking and execution. 

A lot of the preparations teams make will be venue specific as conditions of the particular ground matter a lot in cricket. Here we look at the three venues in the UAE and what we could expect from the UAE pitches for Indian T20 League 2020.

Dubai

The Dubai International Stadium is in the city outskirts and is United Arab Emirates' largest stadium. The dressing rooms are massive and the facilities are the state of the art. This is the most recently constructed stadium in the UAE and has a tented roof above the stands. While there are no practising facilities in the venue as such, the ICC Academy is less than 5 km away and has 38 practice wickets that can be replicated to match those from any country.  The venue is virus-ready too, with sanitizer stations and temperature checks at the entrance. The Emirates D10, a T10 tournament, was staged here recently observing all virus protocols. 

Pitch and other conditions: The conditions in Dubai are generally helpful for spinners although we also saw flat batting tracks in one half of the World Cup qualifier last year.

Abu Dhabi

The Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi was first opened in 2006 and has more ovals than the Dubai Cricket stadium. One of the largest cricket grounds in the world, Abu Dhabi also boasts of 24 turf lanes in the nets. Like Dubai, this is also in the city outskirts, helping Indian T20 League organisers to conduct matches without too much interference or traffic confusions. Abu Dhabi successfully conducted the UFC Fight Island during a strict lockdown and should be good enough to stage the Indian T20 League. The Abu Dhabi stadium is quite picturesque with grass banks but isn't very T20 friendly considering the long boundaries result in lesser sixes. 

Pitch and other conditions:  In 45 international T20I matches in Abu Dhabi, only once has a team scored 200 or more. That's a telling stat and reveals how high scores are virtually non-existent here. The pitch isn't the quickest either which further dents free strokeplay.

Ground

T20Is hosted

Batting avg

Highest total

Avg team run-rate

200-plus scores

Sharjah Cricket Stadium

14

19.69

215

7.29

1

Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi

45

21.01

225

7

1

Dubai International Cricket Stadium

62

20.24

211

7.14

4

Sharjah

The iconic Sharjah Cricket Stadium, opened in 1982, has a lot of memories attached to it, particularly for the 90s cricket fans in India. The facilities and the ground has undergone renovation and is now well equipped to stage a tournament of the magnitude of the Indian T20 League. That it's in the centre of the city will pose logistics issues during these pandemic times for Indian T20 League organisers. The practise facilities are also minimal with seven lanes for the nets. The Sharjah 10 was conducted here during the lockdown and it seems like the venue is equipped on the virus protocols front too. 

Pitch and other conditions: The wickets in Sharjah are traditionally flat and aids quick scoring. However, like with Abu Dhabi, Sharjah has also had only one score of 200 or more, albeit in a much lesser number of matches (14).

Feature image courtesy: AFP / Asif Hassan

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