T20 World Cup: Team batting first will have to break the Dubai hoodoo

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New Zealand's Trent Boult plays football during a training session in Dubai on Saturday.— ANI
New Zealand's Trent Boult plays football during a training session in Dubai on Saturday.— ANI

Bengaluru - Both the teams New Zealand and Australia must respect the conditions

By Sumit Chakraberty

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Published: Sat 13 Nov 2021, 11:53 PM

The two semifinals in Abu Dhabi and Dubai had several similarities. England posted a competitive score of 166 in Abu Dhabi, and New Zealand needed over 14 an over in the last four overs, with their last two specialist batsmen at the crease. A Jimmy Neesham blitzkrieg in a 23-run 17th over from Chris Jordan turned the game, and the Kiwis won with an over to spare. Pakistan made an even more challenging 176 in Dubai, and Australia seemed beaten at 96 for 5 in the 13th over. Marcus Stoinis and Matthew Wade, the last two recognized batsmen, consolidated till the asking rate crossed 12 an over with five overs to go. Then, they accelerated and Wade finished it with three sixes in a 22-run 19th over by Shaheen Shah Afridi. What can the team batting first in Sunday’s T20 World Cup final do to overcome the Dubai hoodoo, where the chasing side has won in all 10 evening games?


It’s easy to find fault with Pakistan skipper Babar Azam’s 39 in 34 balls, but it was that circumspect start which set up a platform for a blast at the end. So far in this tournament, Pakistan’s 176 is the highest score batting first in Dubai. Even the team batting second would do well to respect the conditions where a number of wickets have fallen at the start. Pakistan showed that anything over 170 could be defensible.


Both the semifinals were lost in the death overs. There didn’t seem to be much dew either in Thursday evening’s Dubai game. Nevertheless, the ball appears to come easier on to the bat in the cool night air, especially in the final 8-10 overs. Bowlers have to be doubly mindful not to pitch anything on a good length in that period. Hitting the deck hard and mixing it up with yorkers and bouncers appears to be the best plan. And maybe keep a fielder on the fence behind the wicketkeeper for the ramp shot.


Leg-spinner Shadab Khan almost clinched the game for Pakistan by taking a wicket in each one of his four overs. He came on to bowl right after the powerplay, when he could keep fielders in the deep for skied catches, and bowled a four-over spell without a break to avoid any dew later on. That would also be the right way to go for New Zealand’s Ish Sodhi and Australia’s Adam Zampa, who bowled an economical spell and took the prize wicket of Babar Azam. The Dubai wicket appears drier and shorn of grass for the knockout games, so the leg-spinners will get turn to induce miscues.


David Warner’s return to form is perfectly timed for the Aussies. The left-hander is sharp in the powerplay and a threat to the leg-spinner after that. Steven Smith and Glenn Maxwell are also good players of spin, but they’re yet to find their touch. On the other side, Kiwi skipper Kane Williamson will have to anchor the middle overs as well as take on the leg-spinner, now that the left-hander, Devon Conway, is out with an injured hand.


Wicketkeeper-batsman Tim Seifert will replace Conway, which weakens the Kiwi batting, on paper. But the Kiwis may still be better off replacing the batting all-rounder, Glenn Phillips, with bowling all-rounder Kyle Jamieson. Phillips has contributed little of note so far, whereas the tall Jamieson may extract steep bounce on the Dubai pitch to get wickets. Bowling the opposition out could be the answer to the Dubai hoodoo.

Sumit Chakraberty is a writer based in Bengaluru. Write to him at chakraberty@gmail.com

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