In Imran Tahir, Ravindra Jadeja, Piyush Chawla, Mitchell Santner and Karn Sharma as a group, Chennai Super Kings, undoubtedly, have the most experienced and skilled T20 spinners of all the participating teams. Kolkata Knight Riders have two of the best wicket-taking spinners at their disposal; they’re Sunil Narine and Kuldeep Yadav. Other teams also have stocked up their spin resources.
This year, Delhi Capitals aren’t too behind in terms of spin prowess. With the addition of Ravichandran Ashwin, DC have strengthened their spin department this season. Already in their ranks are Nepalese leg-spinner Sandeep Lamichhane, veteran leggie Amit Mishra and left-armer Axar Patel.
This depth in the spin department will come handy in the UAE, believes DC’s opening bat Shikhar Dhawan.
“With only three venues being used and lots of matches happening, I think during the course of the season, wickets will turn and get slower, and that’s where our great spinners in Ashwin, Sandeep, Amit, and Axar will help us. Their experience will be really valuable,” Dhawan commented.
“With Ashwin coming in with his experience, I think he will share his insights. That can be really helpful for the team as well as the captain. I think if Shreyas (Iyer) has an open mind to learn from both seniors and juniors, and he will lead us in the right way,” the southpaw added. “I think we have a very balanced side which can do well in the conditions here in UAE.”
The last time IPL was held in the UAE was in 2014. The first 20 matches of the tournament were staged in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah because of the general elections in India.
In 2014, the average first innings score in UAE was 151. Only 12 times did teams score more than 160, and only twice did they go beyond 200 (both in the same match; Chennai Super Kings vs Kings XI Punjab). Besides, teams had managed to chase down targets in excess of 160 only three times.
The not-so-desirable batting numbers point out the dominance spin had back in 2014. This year, too, an encore is possible; a lot will be determined by the pitches that are on offer.
“Attractive batting also depends on the pitches we get. If the pitches aren’t good and have wear and tear, then it becomes difficult to score off the bowlers and at a quick rate,” stated Dhawan.