Sports News

Amid the pandemic, summer of cricket reaches the Gulf




Come October and November, the Dubai International Cricket Stadium will be the cynosure of the eye


Establishment: 2009

Capacity: 25,000

Owner: Dubai Properties

Architect: Awsam Matloob

Operator: Dubai Sports City

Key forthcoming matches:

1. Sunday, 10 Oct: IPL 2021 Qualifier-1

2. Friday, 15 Oct: IPL 2021 Final

3. Sunday, 24 Oct: India vs. Pakistan – T20 World Cup

4. Saturday, 30 Oct: Australia vs. England – T20 World Cup

5. Thursday, 11 Nov: 2nd semi-final – T20 World Cup

6. Sunday, 14 Nov: Final – T20 World Cup

… … …… … …… … …

Dubai, the International Cricket Council (ICC) headquarters, will be the cynosure of more than a billion people over the next two months as it co-hosts, along with Abu Dhabi and Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the Indian Premier League (IPL) and the ICC Men’s Twenty20 (T20) World Cup.

The IPL, the world’s richest cricket tournament and one of the most-watched sporting events in the world, is currently taking place across the three venues in the UAE – Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Sharjah, wrote the Khaleej Times on Sunday (26).

Two grand finales in a month

This follows the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI) decision to conduct the remainder of their marquee tournament’s 14th season in the UAE after concerns over the Covid-19 situation in India forced the suspension of the tournament in May, with 31 of the season’s 60 matches still to be played.

The BCCI also decided to host the 16-team ICC T20 World Cup in the UAE and Oman.

Dubai will therefore host the final of the ICC T20 World Cup on Sunday, 14 November, after a total of 45 matches, out of which 12 being played in Dubai. The IPL 2021 final will also take place in Dubai on Friday, 15 October and it will host 13 of the tournament’s 31 matches.

And the ‘India vs. Pakistan’

Most of cricket’s one billion plus fans from around the world will, however, be waiting for day two of the ICC T20 World Cup when traditional rivals India and Pakistan renew their colourful cricketing rivalry in Dubai on Sunday, 24 October, in the most popular format of the sport, said Khaleej Times.

According to a survey conducted by the ICC, T20 cricket, which is the shortest format of cricket after Tests (five days) and One-Day Internationals (50 overs per each side), is favoured by 92% of cricket fans.

‘India vs. Pakistan’ is one of the most intense and enduring rivalries in sports, and with 90% of cricket’s billion-plus fans coming from South Asia, the match at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on 24 October will be the biggest talking point of the tournament.

The game will be a bonanza for South Asian cricket fans in the UAE.

Record-breaking viewership for IPL

Saeed Hareb, Secretary General of Dubai Sports Council had said: “Several people from India and Pakistan call UAE their home. A lot of Indian and Pakistani fans will be coming to the UAE from around the world for the tournament, and for this match in particular. I expect there will be a great buzz around this game, both inside and outside the stadium.

A staggering 405 million viewers in India – out of a total TV viewership of 836 million – watched the 2020 IPL tournament, shattering all previous records by any broadcasting property in India.

The opening match of the 2020 IPL in UAE was viewed by a whopping 158 million, which was 21% higher than 131 million viewers recorded during the opening match of IPL 2019.

Top sports leagues in world

The 405 million Indian viewers of the 2020 IPL spent a total of 400 billion minutes watching the tournament, which was a 23% jump in total consumption over IPL 2019 (326 billion minutes), and a 12.4% increase over ICC World Cup 2019 (356 billion minutes).

Launched in 2008, the IPL has grown in stature since and it now ranks among the top sports league in the world in terms of average attendance. The brand value of the 2019 IPL was estimated to be US$ 6.8 billion (Rs. 1,358 b), according to New York-based financial consultancy firm Duff & Phelps.