In the 2020 edition of the IPL, where the home advantage is completely out of the equation, almost all franchises will have picked one of the three stadiums as their own. In contrast to the big grounds at Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the Sharjah Cricket Stadium has boundaries within a 58 meters-65 meters range, which is a boon to all the teams.
The run fests the Sharjah Cricket Stadium has been offering so far has been the talking point of this year's IPL. This stadium, which has hosted the most number of ODIs in cricket, is scheduled to host the 12 league stage games of IPL 2020.
As all the teams get to play 3 matches each at Sharjah, the advantage is spread out evenly over the course of the season.
At the end of the first 3 weeks of this IPL, Rajasthan Royals (RR) happens to be the only team to have played all their Sharjah matches. They have won two games at the ground, and in the 3 games that RR played at Sharjah, Rahul Tewatia has been their standout performer both with the bat and the ball.
Let us look at how the southpaw from Haryana has excelled at Sharjah so we can know what to expect from the remaining 7 games scheduled at the venue.
#1 Tewatia as a wicket-taker at Sharjah
Defending a 200+ target at Sharjah against CSK, one of the most prolific IPL teams, the game could be won by either side until Tewatia rolled his wrist.
Once the powerplay was done, Tewatia was at the pitch to bowl his leggies, and the tide turned in the favor of RR. The right arm leg-spinning allrounder picked up 3 wickets in his first 2 overs giving away just 17 runs.
After dismissing Shane Watson, Sam Curran, and Rituraj Gaikwad in a short span of time, Tewatia was undoubtedly elated and went on to celebrate with his fingers in his ears. Little did we know that this celebration, which infuriated a lot of CSK fans, was going to be repeated in the next game as well.
#2 Tewatia as a finisher at Sharjah
The concept of voluntarily retiring out was de-stigmatized when the world saw how Tewatia shifted gears from one extreme to the other against KXIP.
Being promoted to bat at No.4 and hoping for some fireworks while chasing a mammoth total of 224 runs, the southpaw not only struggled to even make contact with the ball but also disturbed the free-flowing Sanju Samson at the other end.
Everyone from experts in the commentary panel to the common man on social media was writing Tewatia off because of his bad start to the innings (8 runs off 19 balls). However, all Tewatia needed was one good shot off the bat. When he cleared one off Bishnoi, he was literally unstoppable.
With 51 runs needed off the last 18 balls, Tewatia smacked 5 sixes off Cottrell in the 18th over, making it the highest successful run chase in the IPL.
#3 Tewatia as an economist at Sharjah
This IPL saw a target of fewer than 200 runs for the first time at Sharjah. Surprisingly, even a low score by Sharjah standards was defended successfully by the strong Delhi Capitals’ (DC) bowling unit. More than Delhi’s win, it was Tewatia’s all-round show that caught the attention of fans, despite it being for a losing cause.
The game is already loaded in favor of batsman, and at venues like Sharjah, the bowlers are typically mere spectators. However, Tewatia being the player that he is, bowled an economical spell of 4 overs giving away just 20 runs. He also took the important wicket of Marcus Stoinis, who had settled in for a big onslaught.
This spell from Tewatia helped RR restrict DC to a 185-run target. He was also the top-scorer for his team, scoring 38 off 29 while chasing. However, the target was too difficult to chase, and with no other batsman on the pitch to support him at the other end, Tewatia lost his wicket in the last over.
Click here to see IPL standings 2020.Published 12 Oct 2020, 17:42 IST