History of Sheikh Zayed Stadium
The Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi opened in 2004 and it has been hosting first-class cricket ever since – starting with an Intercontinental Cup game between Scotland and Kenya later that same year.
The ground’s first ever ODI series saw India draw 1-1 with Pakistan in 2006. The first T20I to be played here was in 2010, when Afghanistan beat Scotland.
It has also been the venue for 15 Test matches. Unable to play Test cricket in their own country, Pakistan were the home side in 13 of those games. Afghanistan were hosts in the other two.
The Sheikh Zayed Stadium has a big playing surface and can hold up to 20,000 people. It has large stands at the North End and the Pavilion End, with grassy banks for spectators square of the wicket.
Thanks to its world-class floodlights, the Sheikh Zayed Stadium can host day-night cricket. In fact, seven of the 15 T20I World Cup matches here – including the semi-final – will be day-night games.
Because of the open spaces around the ground, there is often a breeze blowing through it. This tends to mean dew is not as much of a problem as it can be at other stadiums.
Games hosted at Sheikh Zayed Stadium
Pakistan (nine T20Is) and Afghanistan (10 T20Is) have often used this ground when they have been unable to host visiting teams in their own country. Oman (12 T20Is) have played here more than any other international team, but Ireland (9 T20Is) have also been regular visitors.
Away from international cricket, the Sheikh Zayed Stadium was used for seven matches in the 2014 IPL when India was holding political elections and didn’t want the IPL to be a distraction. Within those seven games, both Delhi Daredevils (84) and Royal Challengers Bangalore (70) managed to be bowled out for under 100.
It also hosted 22 matches in the 2020 IPL, when the tournament was moved outside India because of Covid-19. Again because of Covid, the Sheikh Zayed was the venue for eight matches in the 2021 IPL that has just finished.
Those 2021 fixtures were generally high scoring, although Royal Challengers Bangalore were bowled out for 92 in Virat Kohli’s 200th appearance for them. Meanwhile, Ruturaj Gaikwad scored a century for Chennai Super Kings here, but they still lost to Rajasthan Royals.