The dew factor will go out of the window but the searing heat will be an issue when Royal Challengers Bangalore take on Rajasthan Royals in the first of the Indian Premier League double-headers in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.
Having played their first two games at Sharjah, the smallest of the three venues, Royals — as Steve Smith admitted — could not quite adapt to the conditions and ground dimensions in Dubai in the game against Kolkata Knight Riders.
The ground in Abu Dhabi too is on the bigger side and Royals’ experience of playing in Dubai will help them take more informed decisions.
Indeed, RCB will also be making their first appearance at the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium.
|Match||Day||Venue||Result||Total points for season|
|SRH vs RCB||21 Sep||Dubai||RCB won by 10 runs||2|
|KXIP vs RCB||24 Sep||Dubai||RCB lost by 97 runs||2|
|RCB vs MI||28 Sep||Dubai||RCB won Super Over||4|
|RR vs CSK||22 Sep||Sharjah||RR won by 16 runs||2|
|RR vs KXIP||27 Sep||Sharjah||RR won by 4 wickets||4|
|RR vs KKR||30 Sep||Dubai||RR lost by 37 runs||4|
The Royals are now likely to have a better idea of playing on the bigger grounds in UAE and their leg-spinner Shreyas Gopal accepted the fear of unknown.
“We can’t really estimate anything sitting here, we’ve practised during the day a few times in the ICC academy so we’ll go there and take a call there itself. It shouldn’t be too different.
“There might not be dew other than that I feel it’ll be a really good wicket and a good contest,” Gopal said ahead of the match.
With the batsmen unable to hit through the line as consistently as they could do in Sharjah, Royals failed to chase 175 against KKR on Wednesday.
Since they have a settled overseas players’ combination, significant team changes are unlikely.
The one are they could look into is bringing back young opener Yashasvi Jaiswal perhaps in place Robin Uthappa. He was dropped after Jos Buttler’s arrival but calls have been growing for his inclusion.
Both Royals and the RCB go into Saturday’s afternoon match with two wins in three games.
RCB have made a promising start but need to improve their fielding and death bowling. Navdeep Saini bowled a tidy Super Over against Mumbai Indians to get his team over the line after RCB leaked as many as 79 runs in the last four overs for the game to be tied.
The Bangalore franchise made three changes in the previous clash and are likely to give those players - Isuru Udana, Adam Zampa and Gurkeerat Mann - another go.
The move to open the bowling with Washington Sundar paid off as the offie returned with figures of 12 for one in four overs in a game where more than 400 runs were scored.
Ab de Villiers has shown ominous touch but after being dehydrated at the end of last match where he kept wickets, RCB have to decide if a gamble on his fitness is worth taking.
It must be heartening for the team management to see Shivam Dube providing the big hits towards the end against Mumbai Indians.
Skipper Kohli is yet to set the tournament on fire and Saturday could be his day.
Doubts remain over the availability premier all-rounder Chris Morris, who picked up a side strain before the start of the tournament.
Head to head
|Matches||RCB won||RR won||No result||RCB win %||RR win%|
|RCB vS RR||20||8||10||2||40%||50%|
|Virat Kohli||Yuzvendra Chahal||Moeen Ali||Parthiv Patel|
|AB de Villiers||Mohammed Siraj||Pawan Negi||Shahbaz Ahmed|
|Gurkeerat Mann||Umesh Yadav||Shivam Dube||Joshua Philippe|
|Devdutt Padikkal||Navdeep Saini||Washington Sundar|
|Aaron Finch||Adam Zampa||Christopher Morris|
|Dale Steyn||Isuru Udana|
|Mahipal Lomror||Ankit Rajpoot||Shreyas Gopal||Jos Buttler|
|Manan Vohra||Mayank Markande||Ben Stokes*||Robin Uthappa|
|Riyan Parag||Jofra Archer||Rahul Tewatia||Sanju Samson|
|David Miller||Varun Aaron||Shashank Singh||Anuj Rawat|
|Steve Smith||Jaydev Unadkat||Anirudha Joshi|
|Yashasvi Jaiswal||Kartik Tyagi|
Match starts 1530 IST and will be broadcast on Star Sports network and Disney+ Hotstar
(With PTI inputs)
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