Delhi Capitals (DC) pacer Harshal Patel believes playing in neutral venues across Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah will test the teams' resolve and adaptability during the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL), starting September 19.
The IPL 2020 had to be moved from its homeland India due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The tournament is being organised with bio-secure arrangements in UAE and will run till November 10.
Patel thinks the situation will force teams to push harder than they would've if they had the luxury of seven home games at a venue.
"I think every situation comes with its advantages and disadvantages. Having neutral venues will take away that home advantage for sure, so it's going to be challenging for teams because you can't rely on one brand of the wicket," he was quoted as saying by PTI.
The other aspect of this is that teams won't have the opportunity to curate surfaces according to their needs.
"We have seen in the past that teams like to prepare spin-friendly pitches when they have a spin-heavy squad and that enables them to win that way."
"But when you are playing on a neutral venue, you don't have that advantage. I think it's going to be very interesting to see how teams take up this challenge. I believe that skill is going to play a huge part than any other thing on these pitches," Patel added.
For bowlers like Patel, the heat in UAE will pose another massive challenge, especially with the IPL being a such a long tournament.
"I think the heat is going to play a huge part, especially in the afternoon games, so we will need to sit down with our trainers and physio to make sure we are preparing well in order to tackle those challenges of playing in almost 42-43 degrees," he said.
"It is important to conserve energy, especially in training to make sure you have plenty in reserve. If you are doing well in matches, and are feeling good, there has been talk in our group that you shouldn't train too much then."
Patel has been working hard on his fitness, having been ruled out after just two games last season with a fracture on his right hand.
"It was pretty difficult for me to leave the tournament half-way because I think I was in good touch and of course I wanted to do well," he said. "IPL is the biggest tournament for me because I don't play international cricket, so it was really difficult, and hard to take."
The 29-year-old Haryana quick, who was with Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) previously, enjoyed a very good run with both ball and bat during the last winter's Syed Mushtaq Ali T20. Patel said he is a more confident cricketer now and is backing himself to deliver the goods in all departments for the Delhi franchise.
"I have more confidence than I have ever had in my skills. I have worked harder on my batting and I am just not that pinch-hitter anymore."
"I know how to finish games and have become more sophisticated that way. Similarly, in terms of my bowling, I am more aware of what I can and cannot do. So that puts me in a very good position ahead of this season," he signed off.