Hemant Brar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
KL Rahul, the Punjab Kings captain, feels there should be a provision to change a wet ball during the second innings of a T20 game, especially in dewy conditions else the bowling team faces a "huge disadvantage".
Defending 195 against the Delhi Capitals at the Wankhede Stadium on Sunday, the Kings' bowlers struggled with the dew, forcing Rahul to even check with the umpires if the ball could be changed. The playing conditions didn't allow that and the Capitals went on to win the game with ten balls to spare.
"I think that [the ball change] will really be fair to the team bowling second, and I am not just saying that because I am on the losing side," Rahul told Star Sports at the post-match presentation. "I think that's only fair that the team bowling second doesn't have such a huge disadvantage. Our bowlers try and practice their skills with the wet ball, but when you go out in the middle with the pressure it's always difficult. I did ask the umpires to change the ball a couple of times, but again, it's not in the rulebook, so that's how the game goes, we've got to take it."
The dew has been a big factor at the Wankhede, making it easier to chase totals in night games as the ball comes better on to the bat in the second innings. Moreover, spinners too struggle to grip the wet ball and find it hard to get any purchase from the surface, as was seen on Sunday when the ball slipped from Jalaj Saxena's hand during his delivery stride and landed behind him. Rahul said his side expected those challenges but it's not easy to overcome them.
"It was not something that was unexpected. When we come to Wankhede, we know that bowling second is always a challenge. We, as a bowling unit, tried to prepare for such conditions as well, but, again, it does get a bit difficult in a game situation, and especially when you are bowling against quality batters."
Mayank Agarwal, who scored a brilliant 36-ball 69 for the Kings, also said that dew made batting easier in the second innings.
"It wasn't as easy [in the first innings] as it looked in the second innings," Agarwal said at the press conference after the game. "I thought the Delhi Capitals batted exceedingly well and also there was as dew factor. We cannot do much about it as players. It just boils down to execution under pressure and practising that. That's as much as you can do as a player. Those are the things that are in our control. Obviously, we cannot do much apart from that."
In the five games played so far at the Wankhede Stadium in IPL 2021, the side winning the toss has opted to chase every single time. On four occasions, they ended up winning the game. The Rajasthan Royals, the only side to lose after winning the toss, came within a shot of chasing down 222 against the Kings.
The Kings have played their three games at the Wankhede so far and were asked to bat first on all three occasions after losing the toss.
After the Chennai Super Kings' first game this season, their captain MS Dhoni had also stated that 7.30pm IST starts were giving an advantage to the team bowling first. His reason: when you start at 8pm, the dew has already set in, thus not giving the chasing side any real advantage.