The much-awaited seventh edition of the ICC Men's T20 World Cup is less than a month away and there has been a lot of chatter about how the conditions and pitches can affect the dynamics of the mega event. The Super 12s of the competition will be held at three venues- Dubai International Cricket Stadium, Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi and Sharjah International Stadium- in the UAE.
The 13th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) took place at these three grounds. The second phase of the ongoing IPL has also been shifted to the middle-east nation. The UAE generally produces sporting wickets but the records over the last couple of years suggest that the wickets tend to get slower and slower as time goes on.
UAE has been one of the most favourable places for the spinners to bowl. 43.45% of the total wickets in T20Is there have been taken by spinners. The teams participating in the upcoming World Cup have kept that in mind and picked a lot of spinners in their squads. India, one of the favourites to win the championship, have included as many as five spinners in their squad. Clearly spin will play a big part in the competition.
The grounds in Dubai and Abu Dhabi are pretty big ones and batters can't fancy themselves to hit many boundaries. Running between the wickets on these grounds will be extremely vital as it has been in the IPL.
The average runs per over is below eight on all three venues in T20s which means the average score in the UAE is in the 150s. The Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi traditionally produces pacy wickets but the scenario in the last couple of years has been slightly different. Since 2020, the spinners have been way more economical than the pacers in the 20-over format. The pacers have given away 8.44 runs per over whereas the economy rate of the spinners was 7.55 at this venue during this period. 48 T20Is have taken place at this ground and 200 has been crossed only once which clearly indicates that it's never been a high-scoring ground.
Dubai International Stadium is the most spin-friendly ground in the UAE. Scoring off spinners is a difficult task here as they get a lot of assistance from the wicket. Spinners' economy rate on this ground in T20s since the start of 2020 is 7.43 which is much lower than that of pacers. Lots of spinners have started off proceedings with the ball here and captains have trusted them to do the job at the death as well. This is not a high-scoring ground either with the average runs per over being just 7.44.
Sharjah Cricket Stadium is a different world altogether. The pitch is generally pretty flat, the boundaries are small and batters have backed themselves to hit maximums there. Teams like the West Indies and England will have a great possibility to succeed on this ground. Bangladesh will face Afghanistan and Pakistan in Sharjah if they qualify as the top team of group B.
But towards the end of the previous edition, high-scoring games were non-existent in Sharjah. The average first innings score in the last five matches last season was only 142.
The final of the ongoing IPL will be held on October 15 and the opening game of the World Cup Super 12s is slated to take place on October 23. The pitches won't get enough rest after the completion of the IPL and with the number of grounds being only three, multiple matches will be played on the same surface over and over again. Therefore, a lot of overs will be bowled by spinners on those tired pitches and the teams that are well-equipped to nullify the spin threat are more likely to succeed in the tournament.