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Feature

What to expect from the Delhi games in the WPL

Lots of runs, lovely weather and big crowds especially if the home team is playing

Vishal Dikshit
Vishal Dikshit
05-Mar-2024
Delhi Capitals play four games this season at home in the league stage  •  BCCI

Delhi Capitals play four games this season at home in the league stage  •  BCCI

This is the best time of the year to be in Delhi. The biting cold has made way for spring sunshine which has given birth to an abundance of flowers whose fragrance has spilled all over the city. The Air Quality Index (AQI) has left its highest levels far behind. Even the afternoons are mellow. And the evenings are just perfect to put on a snug sweatshirt and venture out for the delectable street food Delhi is famous for.
Not a bad time for some cricket matches then. The WPL caravan moves to Delhi for the second leg - nine league games and two knockouts - from March 5 to 17, the third city to serve as host after Mumbai (and Navi Mumbai) last year and Bengaluru for the first half this season. Here's what to expect in the coming fortnight.

How are the Delhi pitch and conditions different from Bengaluru's?

Traditionally the pitch at the Arun Jaitley Stadium is known to offer slow pace and low bounce compared to the batting-friendly M Chinnaswamy deck. The recent T20 games there have, however, seen regular scores of 170-plus and Chennai Super Kings had even amassed 223 there in last year's IPL.
Even though the current weather and boundary sizes are different from what's seen in the IPL, Delhi is expected to offer scores similar to what's been on display in the Bengaluru leg of the WPL. There may not be many 200-plus totals like last year, but the conditions will largely be batter-friendly because of the perception that fans want to see fours and sixes more than low-scorers. Some wear and tear could make the tracks slower as the matches go on, but probably not as much as in the IPL in the summer months when the pitches are much drier.
What could help the bowlers is that Delhi saw some scattered showers over the weekend and overcast skies on Monday. Tuesday is also likely to see clouds in the evening which could offer some swing when the ball is new. The temperatures over the next week are likely to dip below 20 degrees Celsius around the start of the game and as of now no rain is expected in the coming days.
The home team Delhi Capitals possess an all-round attack for both spin- and pace-friendly surfaces with fast bowlers in Marizanne Kapp, Shikha Pandey, Arundhati Reddy and Annabel Sutherland, and spinners in the form of Jess Jonassen and Radha Yadav. But if the balance skews really heavily in favour of spin, teams like UP Warriorz and Mumbai Indians could edge them out.

Will the dew and toss continue to heavily affect the results?

In Bengaluru, teams winning the toss have almost blindly opted to bowl and won seven of the 11 matches. Delhi is likely to continue the trend. The first reason for that is dew, which captains have been citing in the first leg. Since the games start at 7.30pm IST, the teams winning the toss try to bowl their set of 20 before the dew takes over, and then take advantage while chasing when the ball becomes more slippery to grip. With dew expected in Delhi too, teams are expected to bowl first again.
The second reason is chasing targets is largely the preference in T20s as teams know exactly what pace to score at instead of guessing what's the likely par score when batting first.
"That's what teams prefer in T20s," Mumbai captain Harmanpreet Kaur told the broadcaster after they chased 132 against RCB with 29 balls to spare. "As a batter we practice a lot for these situations, so you have an idea. When you bat first you have to bat according to the wicket, and you don't have a clear idea. While chasing it's a lot clearer and you can plan accordingly."

What are the boundary sizes expected to be?

Mumbai saw some tiny boundaries in WPL 2023, as short as 42 to 44 meters at the start, but Bengaluru in 2024 was better and Delhi is expected to follow suit. ESPNcricinfo has learnt that the BCCI has set a range of 50 to 60 meters for the boundaries in Delhi. The Arun Jaitley Stadium is preparing to use three of the nine pitches at the ground for the WPL and at times one of the square boundaries is going to be shorter than the other as different tracks are used, which will change the tactics of the bowling sides. The outfield was lush green and smooth in the days leading up to the first match.

Which stands will be open and how are the tickets priced?

Initially, only the first tier of the stands will be opened for spectators, and the authorities will open up stands in the second and third tiers depending on the crowd response.
In Bengaluru, fans turned up in huge numbers mainly for their home team RCB, especially on weekends, and the first sellout game was on Saturday evening which was RCB's first game of this season. Out of the four games Capitals will play in Delhi, the first will be against defending champions Mumbai on Tuesday, their last league game on Wednesday (March 13) and their two games in between - on Friday and Sunday - could see the biggest crowds. Currently on top of the table, Capitals will hope to make the knockouts again to cash in on the home advantage.
"I'm very excited [about the games in Delhi]," Capitals vice-captain Jemimah Rodrigues said in a video on the WPL website. "We saw the crowds in Bangalore, which was crazy. Not just the RCB games. I've never seen such crowds for women's cricket ever. I think they (RCB) are very loyal fans but even for all the other games it was crazy. But now going home for the first time, playing at home, playoffs are also there and hopefully our home ground will be a blessing for us to win at home and lift that trophy for the first time."
The tickets for the Delhi leg are up on Bookmyshow.com and those available online range from INR 100 to 200.

Vishal Dikshit is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo