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The Pakistan Super League moved to Karachi last week with scoring rates taking a massive surge. The average first innings total in the four games in Karachi is 193 compared to 149 in the UAE leg of the competition.

In the very first innings at the National Stadium Karachi, Islamabad United posted 238-3 (the highest in PSL) after Cameron Delport hit 117 off 60 balls and Asif Ali 55 off 21 against Lahore Qalandars. The former scored the fastest hundred (49 balls) while the latter’s effort was the joint-fastest (17 balls) half-century in the tournament history. 27 sixes in the match was another tournament record.

Did it happen because Karachi had short boundaries?

No, the size of the boundaries in Karachi was same as Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah which is 65 yards from the center of pitch. Since the 26 games of the UAE-leg were played with 65 yards boundaries, the organisers wanted to use the same dimensions in Karachi so that some teams do not feel they are at disadvantage as the equation to qualify for playoffs might have come down to the Net Run Rate. One can disagree with this notion but it does not change the fact that size of boundaries at all four venues used in the PSL was 65 yards. It might change in the playoffs stage.

What is the minimum requirement for boundaries?

According to the tournament playing conditions of PSL, the boundary should not be less than 65 yards (59.43 meters) which is also in line with the ICC’s playing conditions for T20Is. The minimum requirement for the straight boundary in PSL is 70 yards (64 meters). The boundaries in PSL were in accordance with the playing conditions.

It must be noted that the aforementioned distances are from the centre of the pitch being used. Some tools do the measurements from the crease and evaluate in a different way. For example, if the distance from the centre of the pitch to the fine leg boundary is 65 yards (59.43 meters), from the crease it could come down to 59 yards (54 meters).

How did the scoring rate in Karachi take a surge if boundaries were same?

There are three ground factors that can have an effect on the scoring rates. Pitch, outfield and boundaries. While the boundaries were of the same size, the pitches used in Karachi were far better for batting compared to those in UAE.

Karachi, like many other venues of the world such as Bangalore, Johannesburg, Nottingham etc, is famous for its batting wickets. It was no different this time when the PSL came.

However, it should not be forgotten that the skills of players matter more than any ground factor. When Islamabad scored 238, it was mainly because of the fact that Delport played an extremely good knock whereas Asif is one of the best power-hitters in the PSL.

Both were batting against the weakest team of the tournament who also dropped Delport when he was on 27. The total could have been different had Lahore grabbed that opportunity. Two days later, Lahore were restricted to 140 in 20 overs by Multan Sultans with same boundaries.

How do PSL’s scoring rates compare to other leagues?

The PSL has been known for its slow scoring rates mainly due to the sluggish nature of pitches in the UAE and partially due to the quality of local bowling talent. The average first innings total (149) in the UAE-leg of PSL this year was smaller than the average total in the most recent edition of six other major T20 tournaments – Big Bash League (155), Bangladesh Premier League (160), Mzansi Super League (166), Caribbean Premier League (170), Indian Premier League (172) and T20 Blast (175). The CPL, in fact, jumped from 151 to 170.

Shane Watson in an interview during the first PSL in 2016 praised the quality of bowling in the tournament but also said he would want the ground facilities, such as pitches, to be better in the coming years.

Why scoring rates are low in the UAE?

The pitches in Abu Dhabi and Dubai are slow by nature. Only in Sharjah batsmen has some advantage. The amount of cricket is another reason behind pitches being not conducive for batting. UAE has only three major cricket venues and this season the grounds have hosted Asia Cup, Afghanistan’s T20 league, T10 tournament, Pakistan’s two home series and the PSL. The batsmen find it tough to score runs on the worn-out pitches.

The IPL is known for high-scoring games, as shown by the average first innings total of 172 last year, but when it was played in UAE in 2014 the average was just 151.