Going by the trend so far, it appears the results of the matches in Sharjah are going to be critical for all teams. This is because teams have found planning for Dubai and Abu Dhabi easier than reading the inscrutable Sharjah ground, with its flat pitch and shorter boundaries.
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So when Delhi Capitals and Sunrisers Hyderabad take the field in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, the emphasis will be to make the most of the game before they return to play in Sharjah.
Sharjah hosts the least number of matches (12) in the IPL, so teams would not want their fate being decided on the results of the matches played there.
“These games (Dubai and Abu Dhabi) become very important. For Sharjah, you need to plan better because of the shorter boundaries. The matches in Sharjah will become very important because if you win there, you can plan even better for the other two grounds,” Delhi Capitals leg spinner Amit Mishra said.
Before the tournament began, the general belief was that the spinners would play bigger roles. However, it is the pacers who have stemmed the run rate, because the pitches have sported more grass than usual.
Capitals go into the match with an advantage. Their pace attack, led by Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje, looks more penetrative than the medium-pace swing-bowling resources in the SRH camp. Capitals would know that a couple of wickets at the top of the innings would expose a fragile and unsure middle-order.
That leaves SRH captain David Warner with a difficult choice to make. It will be interesting to see if he strengthens the batting by bringing Kane Williamson. But he will know he has to get move on quickly before travelling to Sharjah.
“In Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the ball is not really going through at the pace bowlers want. That gives the batsmen extra time to adjust. The pitches may not be turners, but you can plan well on how to go about with your batting and bowling at these two venues,” said Mishra.