Adaptability, momentum are words we often use to relate to certain situations in cricket. Both are extremely strong and important words, especially in a short, sharp event like the Indian Premier League (IPL). Mumbai and Chennai are the two most accomplished sides in IPL history till date. It’s fair to say that when they are up against each other, you expect nothing short of a cracker of a game. The last time these two sides faced each other was in Delhi, just prior to the adjournment of the tournament earlier this year. The sheer muscle power displayed by launching the ball into the stands to set up a high-scoring and entertaining affair was outstanding.
The familiar foes came face to face again to kick off the remainder of the tournament in the UAE on Sunday, and as expected, both sides came up with strong grit and determination to not concede defeat.The one thing that stood out between the two results was the adaptability to the nature of the surface — the pitch. In Delhi, there was a flat batting pitch, having consistent bounce and carry but a smaller outfield. In contrast, in Dubai, the pitch had a bit of assistance for the bowlers and a bigger boundary size. Teams that had been playing in Delhi knew the surface and conditions while the tournament progressed to the second, third week but here in the UAE, it is just the beginning. Yes, the conditions are well known to all but yet not adapted to.
Unlike the last season in 2020, when only a handful of players had come from having played international or domestic cricket, this season nearly all are returning to their franchises after having played international games or professional leagues. Yet, the combination which seemed a well-oiled unit a few months ago needed a little time to fly off the blocks. And it can happen to the best of individuals and teams.
I must share that it’s extremely hot and humid in the UAE. While the quarantine days are spent indoors, the moment you step out you feel the hot breeze that hits you hard. The human body still takes time to adjust even if we have progressed to the automatic transmission mode.
The required momentum will be very crucial to the teams. While it’s a new beginning or a resumption of the tournament, it is in a half way stage and the points are already there and counting. The teams have had to alter their squads. The valuable additions will need to hit the ground running in this heat to make inroads towards the final four slots.
It will be difficult to fill the key slots in the playing eleven. To make that one change, the teams end up making a couple or more to get that perfect balance. It is very rare to make a like for like player replacement in the playing eleven.
It will be interesting, as the next couple of months will see a lot of cricket action happening in the UAE. The weather should hopefully get better by next month, and the cricket will definitely see the batters take the centre stage as they spend more time in the middle.
(The writer is a former captain of Indian women’s cricket team. The views expressed are personal)