IPL 2020: Why spin will be pivotal in UAE
The Indian Premier League 2020 is all set to kick-off from September 19 in the United Arab Emirates. Notably, the matches will be played across three venues- Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah, all of them offer rather flat tracks. A number of cricket experts believe spinners will rule the roost in India's cash-rich league, this time around. Let us decode the same.
The pitches on all three grounds in UAE (Dubai International Stadium, Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium, Sharjah Cricket Stadium) are known for their sluggish nature. As the history states, spinners have had the edge over fast bowlers here. Just like India, the conditions in UAE are hot, which will likely damage the surface as the tournament progresses. Hence, spinners might get lethal on such tracks.
The 2014 edition of Indian Premier League was shifted to UAE due to security concerns relating to the Indian General Elections. Interestingly, Kolkata Knight Riders' Sunil Narine emerged as the leading wicket-taker during that leg, having scalped nine wickets with best bowling figures of 4/20.
Amid all the important factors, the size of grounds in UAE will also be a factor. Unlike India wherein most of the grounds are relatively small, the stadiums in UAE carry huge boundaries. The batsmen usually fancy hitting the fast bowlers as the ball travels easily with more pace. However, both timing and force are important to go for a maximum against spinners.
Since the completion of 2014 IPL, spinners have led the wickets tally in T20 internationals. Interestingly, four of the top-six bowlers are spinners. Afghanistan's Rashid Khan leads the tally, having taken 89 wickets in the format. He is followed by Jasprit Bumrah (59), Mustafizur Rahman (58), Yuzvendra Chahal (55), Ish Sodhi (53) and Mitchell Santner (52) on the list.
In the previous two IPL editions, the spinners have certainly made an impact. Chennai Super Kings' leg-spinner Imran Tahir (26) bagged the Purple Cap in 2019, while Sunrisers Hyderabad's Rashid Khan (21) was the second-highest wicket-taker in the preceding season.
The thirteenth edition of IPL has a strong pool of spinners. Several marquee off-spinners like Ravichandran Ashwin, Harbhajan Singh and Mujeeb Ur Rahman would aim to use their experience. Meanwhile, the spotlight will be on leg-spinners who can be deceptive on the tricky decks of UAE. The list includes Yuzvendra Chahal, Sunil Narine, Shreyas Gopal, Rahul Chahar and Ravi Bishnoi.