Abu Dhabi is all set to witness the resumption of the 2021 edition of the Indian Premier League, and this time there will fans in the stands as well to enjoy the spectacle.
The Zayed Cricket Stadium had hosted seven games in 2014 when the first half of the tournament was held in the UAE, and 22 matches of last year's competition that was played out entirely across the emirates. And this year, Abu Dhabi will host eight of the remaining fixtures.
The IPL was suspended earlier in the year due to a worsening Covid-19 situation in India. The Indian cricket board then moved the remainder of the tournament to the UAE to ensure its successful completion.
All franchises have already set up base across the UAE, with Kolkata Knight Riders stationed in Abu Dhabi. They kick off their campaign against Royal Challengers Bangalore on September 20.
For Kolkata Knight Riders batsman Dinesh Karthik, it was a "no-brainer" for him and his side to base themselves at the Zayed Cricket Stadium.
"The facilities are top notch and when you come here you know that the Abu Dhabi Sports Council has set it up so well that you just can't say that it's not the best facilities that you've ever been part of," said Karthik.
"It's a no-brainer from our side to keep coming here because we get the best facilities, the wickets are good throughout and I hope [Abu Dhabi Cricket] go from strength to strength."
What will make this season more special is the return of fans. Following approval from the National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority (NCEMA) and Abu Dhabi Sports Council , fans will be back in the stands of Zayed Cricket Stadium for the first time since the final match of the Abu Dhabi T10 on November 24, 2019.
The venue will operate at a maximum capacity of 2,200 fans for the initial matches out the tournament, with Zayed Cricket Stadium opening the doors of its iconic main south grandstand along with the north to fans.
"We're excited to be hosting the VIVO Indian Premier League back in Abu Dhabi and absolutely thrilled to be able to safely welcome fans to the Zayed Cricket Stadium ahead of an action-packed start to the season that also includes the ICC Men's T20 World Cup and our third edition of the firecracker Abu Dhabi T10," said Matt Boucher, CEO of Abu Dhabi Cricket.
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