BENGALURU: This year's IPL is going to be a tricky affair for the teams.
Living and playing inside a bio-bubble is a challenge and they also have to redraw strategy. Players were bought last year with plans of playing in India. But with the venue shifting to Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi, equations will change.
The Royal Challengers Bangalore have done their homework, digging into details of games played in these places in the last five years to understand the nature of pitches and conditions.
"We spent a huge amount of time since we knew it (IPL) is coming to the UAE, even two-three months before, making sure we gathered as much information so that we are not flying blind when we start training," said team director Mike Hesson, in an online interaction on Wednesday.
With the 53-day competition starting on September 19 set to witness 60 matches, all three venues could get 15-plus games each, meaning the playing surface is going to be overused. Add the heat factor, and the pitches can become drier. This would bring spinners into the equation even more, making quick scoring a challenge.
This does not help RCB. They don't have many specialist spin options to support Yuzvendra Chahal. They have the likes of Washington Sundar, Moeen Ali, Pawan Negi and others, who are mostly all-round options.
In comparison, the Chennai Super Kings have Ravindra Jadeja, Harbhajan Singh, Piyush Chawla, Imran Tahir and others. The Kings XI Punjab have Mujeeb-Ur Rehman, M Ashwin, K Gowtham. Delhi Capitals have in their ranks R Ashwin, Amit Mishra and Sandeep Lamichane.
RCB Coach Simon Katich is not overly worried. But it will be interesting to see what happens if Chahal, who scalped 18 wickets last season, fails in the UAE.
"Chahal has a huge amount of experience. His record speaks for itself. We knew it was a risk with him being the only leggie (spinner) in the squad. But we've got a number of off-spinners who also provide all-round ability. So between Sundar, Negi, Shahbaz Ahmed, obviously Moeen and also Gurkeerat Singh Mann, we've got players who can play a role in spinning conditions," said Katich.
Open to loans
RCB are open to mid-season loans if the need arises. They have 21 players in the squad, but injuries could force them to look at more.
"We are comfortable with the squad we have, but if we get injuries then loan opportunities could become an option. Later on, we are certainly open to it. We've got a small squad. If something was to occur, we'd certainly look at that. You, however, need both teams to buy into any potential loan, so you need to make sure the other side is happy with the loan," said Hesson.