The fans watch the action between South Africa and Australia
The fans watch the action between South Africa and Australia Image Credit: AP

Abu Dhabi Cricket’s new socially distanced ‘pods’ of a maximum of four spectators on the east and west grass mounds of Zayed Cricket Stadium made their ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021 debut on Saturday, as Australia beat South Africa in a thrilling start to the Super 12 stage.

Chasing 159 for victory, Australia slipped to 115-6 and required 44 from 29 balls before recovering to seal a dramatic victory with just three wickets and one ball to spare. It wasn’t just the action on the pitch that caught the eye, however.

The commentary team, and people tuning in to the broadcast all over the world and on social media, were quick to praise the pods’ innovative safe seating and socially distanced approach.

“It’s beautiful here with the family pods, love it here at Zayed [Cricket Stadium]. A great initiative,” said former New Zealand international Danny Morrison on commentary.

Australia legend Shane Watson added: “How good does it look? How good would that be with a young family!”

In total, more than 1,200 fans sold out the 300 pods across the two grass mounds square of the wicket at Zayed Cricket Stadium and they proved so popular that Abu Dhabi Cricket will safely increase the pods to 200 on each side of the ground.