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Feature

Red soil vs black: Expect ample bounce at the Wankhede, spinners to thrive in Pune

With 55 out of the 70 league-stage matches being held in and around Mumbai, ESPNcricinfo chalks out some trends at each of the four venues

A total of 55 out of the 70 league-stage matches in the upcoming IPL will be played across three venues in and around Mumbai - Wankhede Stadium and Brabourne Stadium, and DY Patil Sports Academy in Navi Mumbai - which are all made of red soil. The fourth venue, the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Pune, is a black-soil surface.
What is the impact of red soil vs black soil? Will dew play a big role? How will the open-air grounds like Pune and those like Wankhede and Brabourne, which are adjacent to the Arabian Sea, have an impact on bowlers? With the IPL being played in peak summer across limited venues, will the pitches get slower by the time we reach the second half?
ESPNcricinfo digs out the key numbers at these venues to chalk out some of the trends observed in the past and that could once again be prevalent this IPL.

Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai

Key Stats
- Teams chasing have won 10 of the last 13 night games.
- The average first-innings score in the last 20 games is 175.
- Wristspinners find it challenging, going at 9.15 runs per over and striking once every 34 balls, while fingerspinners go at just 6.92 per over and strike once every 27 balls.
- Pacers took 31 wickets compared to the one wicket that spinners took in IPL 2021
Win the toss, field first and use the dew. That seems to be the mantra to win at the Wankhede. Short boundaries and dew are likely to play a big role here. We can expect aggressive batters and fast and/or swing bowlers to dominate. Quicks have taken close to 73% of the wickets here in the last 20 games.
As for the red-soil surface, former India fast bowler and Gujarat Titans head coach Ashish Nehra and current India quick Harshal Patel, who is with Royal Challengers Bangalore, agree that it will have ample bounce. Both Nehra and Harshal feel the surface could be utilised by the fast bowlers to make an impact considering the carry would be good. Nehra pointed out that aggressive strike bowlers can easily take quick wickets in the powerplay to neutralise the damage that batters could potentially carry out in the latter half of the innings: "With the new ball you have seen bowlers take two or three wickets in the first three overs, which you don't see in Chennai or Hyderabad. You have to capitalise upfront. If you are bowling well you will get your reward".

Brabourne stadium, Mumbai

Key Stats
- No T20 game has been played in this venue since 2015.
- Teams batting first have won six of the last nine matches here.
- The average first-innings score is 173.
The numbers don't tell us much since Brabourne has not hosted a competitive T20 match since 2015. However, similar to the Wankhede Stadium, it remains a high-scoring surface, considering the base is red soil.
"The biggest characteristic of red-soil pitches is the bounce it offers and whenever there is bounce the ball tends to travel further," Harshal said. "It can be both an advantage and a disadvantage. I suspect in the latter half of the tournament it will start turning because of the sheer number of games being played and the heat." The outfield at Brabourne is quick and the boundaries are much larger than the Wankhede. Spinners could be more relevant here compared to the Wankhede.

DY Patil Stadium, Navi Mumbai

The last IPL game held here was in 2011 and there has been no professional T20 match here since then. The ground was used as a football ground over the last two years. There is not much data and teams would be looking closely to see how pitches are playing to devise plans. The boundary sizes, though, are pretty big compared to the other venues in Mumbai.

MCA Stadium, Pune

Key Stats
- Only one T20 game has been played at this venue in the last four years.
- The average first-innings score in the last 14 games is 170.
- Teams chasing have won nine of the last 14 games.
- Pacers have gone at 9.22 runs per over in night games striking once every 22 balls while spinners go at 8.1 per over striking once every 19 balls.
Pune has hosted many IPL matches in the past but barring one T20I in 2020 , the venue has not hosted any T20 game since 2018. Unlike the stadiums in Mumbai, the pitch in Pune is made up of black soil. The venue also has shorter boundaries compared to Brabourne. Spinners could play a big role in day games here as they have conceded only 6.78 runs per over and strike once every 23 balls. Among the four IPL venues this year in the league stage, we could see spinners come into play the earliest at Pune compared to the other three venues.

Gaurav Sundararaman is a senior stats analyst at ESPNcricinfo