T20 World Cup: The dew in Dubai need not be the game decider

The dew in Dubai favours the chasing side in an evening game. — BCCI
The dew in Dubai favours the chasing side in an evening game. — BCCI

Bengaluru - England and the West Indies face off in the second match of the tournament’s main phase on Saturday evening



By Sumit Chakraberty

Published: Fri 22 Oct 2021, 11:56 PM

The current one-day international (ODI) champions, England, and the defending T20 World Cup champions, the West Indies, face off in the second match of the tournament’s main phase on Saturday evening in Dubai. England’s white ball captain Eoin Morgan has shown time and again how savvy he can be, the latest instance being his leadership role in the rise of Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) from the bottom of the Indian Premier League (IPL) table, all the way to the final. Windies captain Kieron Pollard has been a canny operator too, winning several titles in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) and as vice-captain of the highly successful IPL team, Mumbai Indians.

Here are five areas where their thinking caps will buzz:

FACTOR THE DEW

The dew in Dubai favours the chasing side in an evening game that starts at 6 pm local time, making the batting conditions lopsided as the ground gets wet in the second half. England failed to defend 188 in a warm-up game against India earlier in the week. So, Morgan will know exactly what to do if he wins the toss and Pollard would have taken note too. The trickier part is to plan for the other scenario.

SET AMBITIOUS TARGET

Losing the toss need not be a death knell. MS Dhoni-led Chennai Super Kings (CSK) showed the way in the IPL final. Their openers set a brisk pace without going berserk. Then, they attacked the spinners in the middle overs and finished with a bang in the death overs by which stage the dew had appeared. That’s not an easy template to follow, because the team has to not only set an ambitious target but also be judicious in shot selection at the outset. CSK learned their lesson from the first game of the IPL in which they lost a bunch of wickets to the new ball. Morgan, who was at the receiving end of the CSK lesson, would have filed it for reference.

USE THE BOUNCE

The best news for the West Indies is that Andre Russell not only played their last warm-up game but also bowled a couple of overs. Russell can generate pace and bounce, which will get assistance on the Dubai wicket. Mark Wood, in the opposite camp, who can ramp it up to 150 kmph, will also want to ruffle some feathers. The Windies will miss the tall Jason Holder who used the bounce in Dubai to good effect in the IPL. His absence is almost as glaring as the omission of mystery spinner Sunil Narine.

TO SPIN OR NOT TO SPIN

England will be tempted to play leg-spinner Adil Rashid, given the West Indies’ susceptibility to googlies. But on a pitch with no spin where the ball comes on to the bat, Rashid can be targeted by Chris Gayle for whom the ample size of the ground will be no deterrent.

It’s not an easy call to make but an extra pacer may be the better option in these conditions. The West Indies should likewise resist the temptation to field the leggie Hayden Walsh, and roll out their mix of fast bowlers and variation artistes like Dwayne Bravo.

CAPTAIN’S MOVE

The two captains are a study in contrast in their stature and batting. Pollard is a giant who recently hit six sixes in an over against Sri Lanka. The diminutive Morgan, on the other hand, has been wielding his willow to no effect. The smart move will be for Pollard to promote himself to No.4, ahead of the out-of-form Nicholas Pooran, and for Morgan to drop himself down the order as low as he can. Ideally, he wouldn’t want to come out to bat at all.

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


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