The topsy-turvy nature of the wickets in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah in the Indian T20 League was unpredictable to its very best.
This is the third in a series of features where we will be taking a detailed dive into the various factors that stood out during the course of the Indian T20 League 2020 season.
Matches played: 22
Wickets by pace: 148
Wickets by spin: 91
Economy pace: 8.39
Economy spin: 7.28
A neutral venue where both batsmen and bowlers had something going their way, Abu Dhabi slowly turned towards a bat second venue where chasing sides had it easier with the dew. The ratio of wickets between pace and spin here was 1.62:1, showing that spinners played a mighty role in Abu Dhabi.
"Certainly, one of the biggest curveballs thrown to the teams this year was the shifting of the tournament to the UAE due to the pandemic situation in India. It added in a whole new set of variables that forced the bowlers to adapt as we witnessed innovations in the approach of both pacers and the spinners," said Brett Lee.
The wickets were slower as the tournament progressed and especially in the first innings, scoring runs was hard work against spin. No other venue saw as much help for the spinners as Abu Dhabi. The economy rate for spinners was also lowest at Abu Dhabi. In general, the pitches perhaps favoured the bowlers a touch more than the batsmen. The lowest total in the competition this year, Kolkata's 84/8 vs Bangalore, was recorded here.
Matches played: 26
Wickets by pace: 188
Wickets by spin: 67
Economy pace: 8.50
Economy spin: 7.41
The pitch at Dubai encouraged shot-making with the only deterrent being the ground dimensions. There was swing on offer early on in the Powerplay overs at Dubai and the swing bowlers were quite a handful here. Bumrah’s 4/14, Rabada’s 4/24, Chris Morris’ 4/26 and Pat Cummins’ 4/34 all came at Dubai. Four of the seven four-plus wicket hauls by pacers this season was at Dubai. The ratio of pace to spin wickets stood at 2.80:1 at this venue, showing the kind of domination pace enjoyed here.
In the Powerplay, pacers took as many as 60 wickets here, the most at any single venue this season of the Indian T20 League. Dubai’s wicket stood firm and held up right through the competition with a 200 total registered in the Qualifier 1 by Mumbai vs Delhi. One side of the boundary being shorter here encouraged big-hitting too. 191 sixes were recorded here, the most at any ground, although this is also due to the fact that it hosted most games.
Matches played: 12
Wickets by pace: 91
Wickets by spin: 30
Economy pace: 8.95
Economy spin: 8.4
A graveyard for bowlers, the Sharjah Cricket Stadium witnessed incredibly high totals. Six of the top seven highest totals in the 2020 edition of the Indian T20 League were recorded here. The 200-run mark was breached thrice here in the second innings, while it was achieved just once at other venues. Sharjah ground being small made big-hitting priority here. In 12 matches here, as many as 136 sixes were seen, more than 11 sixes per match. For the record, at other venues, the average was 7.3 (Dubai) and 6 (Abu Dhabi).
While Sharjah started off as one of the quickest venues with short boundaries, spin started playing a role in the latter half. The economy rate for spinners remained lower than that for pace here despite the wicket-taking ratio favouring pace by more than three times. Shikhar Dhawan and Mayank Agarwal recorded centuries here, but run-scoring became tougher in the latter half of the tournament. In the last four matches at Sharjah, the team batting first did not even cross 150. Contrast this to the beginning of the season when the first seven innings (across four matches) saw 200 being breached.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Chris Ratcliffe