MS Dhoni has hinted at being displeased with 7.30pm starts for IPL games in India. His reason: when you start at 8pm, the dew has already set in, thus not giving the chasing side any real advantage. However, if you start at 7.30pm, Dhoni said one team gets a good 30 to 40 minutes of absolutely dry conditions, which can make all the difference.
Dhoni was speaking to host broadcaster Star Sports after his side, the Chennai Super Kings, failed to defend 188 against the Delhi Capitals in dewy conditions. He said the pitch was tacky to start off with, making batting really difficult when they started their innings, but once the dew set in, the Wankhede Stadium track became the batting beauty it is known to be.
"You have to look ahead," Dhoni said, when asked if he was happy with the recovery from a tough start. "Especially when you have dew in your mind and you are batting first, you want to get those extra 10-15 runs - that was normally in 8pm start games. [Now the] 7.30 start means the opposition will have at least half an hour when there will be very little amount of dew on the field, which means it will not come on as nicely as it will in the second innings. So you have to score those 15-20 extra runs to make it even, and after that also you have to get early wickets to make a big mark on the game."
The Super Kings managed less than a run-a-ball in their powerplay, scoring 33 for 2 in that period after being put in to bat. A half-century from Suresh Raina, and some lofty hits from Ravindra Jadeja and Sam Curran in particular late in the innings though helped them surge to 188 for 7.
"Dew was one factor that was playing on our minds right from the start," Dhoni said. "That is the reason why we wanted to get as many runs as possible. Looking at the wicket, our batters did a very good job to reach 188 because the first few overs the wicket was a bit tacky, till the dew set in, which was a good 45 to 50 minutes after the start of the game.
"If we keep getting dew consistently, then definitely 200 is something all the sides will have in mind [as a target]. But as I said the first half an hour is different, that's where you have to get off to a good start."
Dhoni did credit the Capitals bowlers for bowling well, but that advantage in the first half an hour is something even the Capitals batsman Shikhar Dhawan acknowledged.
The IPL switched from 8pm starts in India to half an earlier during the playoffs in 2019. When the league was forced to move to the UAE in 2020 due to the pandemic, the matches began at 7.30pm IST. Now, for this season, the early starts have been persisted with. The slow over rates during the competition have been a matter of concern for the organisers, with matches starting at 8pm regularly ending well past midnight.