Kolkata: The IPL 2021 will turn a leaf with two new venues, the gigantic Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad and Arun Jaitley Stadium in New Delhi coming into play from Monday till May 8. Kolkata Knight Riders, wooden spooners in the rankings, will take on Punjab Kings for the first match at the world’s largest stadium in Ahmedabad on Monday while the two others franchises scheduled to play there are Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore and Delhi Capitals. New Delhi will, meanwhile, host champions Mumbai Indians, Chennai Super Kings, Sunrisers Hyderabad and Rajasthan Royals. Each team will play their next four league games in the respective venues before moving on to the next two set of venues: Kolkata and Bengaluru.
The 20 matches being played so far have reflected the nature of the venues in the contests - while Mumbai provided an even contest between the bat and ball, Chennai provided low-scoring thrillers with spinners calling the shots. It will be the same story in Ahmedabad and New Delhi, with the former providing good batting surfaces with the ball doing a bit for the seamers early on as evident in the five-match T20 series between India and England in March. The erstwhile Kotla, on the other hand, can pose a different challenge with its tendency to keep slow and low.
Eoin Morgan, the beleaguered KKR captain, looks forward to a change of venue to bring them luck after having lost the last four of their five games. “Moving forward, and changing venue - we look to Ahmedabad where we have a number of games. Hopefully a better venue that suits us,” Morgan’s own form mirrors his team’s batting struggles and the 34-year-old said Kolkata were keen to play their natural attacking game.
“We know the capabilities of our side. There is an element of playing smart cricket and building partnerships within that, but ultimately we want guys to play some free-flowing cricket.”
The Narendra Modi Stadium hosted its first international match earlier this year when England and India played a pink-ball Test. A total of seven matches, including two Tests and five T20Is, were played at this venue. The venue is also scheduled to host all four matches of the play-off stages, including the final on May 30.