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Former Pakistan batsman Ramiz Raja reckons spinners will play a crucial role at this year’s IPL 2020, which in turn, will make life difficult for big-hitters to flourish. Raja feels that despite their ability to bat well against spin, the likes of Hardik Pandya and Kieron Pollard – both of whom play for the four-time IPL champions Mumbai Indians – will struggle on the surfaces of the UAE.

His comments come at a time when Pollard has been in red-hot form in the Caribbean Premier League with impactful knocks for his team Trinbago Knight Riders.

I think the teams who have a good spin department will do well, that is the first thing,” Raja said on the YouTube show Cric Cast. “The big-hitters will struggle. Like Lynn, Pollard or Pandya brothers, Hardik Pandya probably although he plays spin well. But I feel that the team selection in this IPL will be slightly different. Fast bowling will be difficult, you will see a lot of variations.”

Raja weighed in on the IPL 2020 being played without crowds in empty stadiums, saying it will be challenging for the players to sustain their usual levels of enthusiasm, especially a team such as Kolkata Knight Riders, who thrive from playing in front of a packed stadium at their home ground, the Eden Gardens.

And behind closed doors, what will be the impact, because you will have to almost remain like a prisoner in a bio-secure environment and put up your best performance. So it becomes a difficult task. Because IPL without the buzz of the crowd is incomplete,” Raja said.

“So big teams will be playing away from their homes where they had a lot of advantage, for e.g. Kolkata Knight Riders had an advantage of playing at the Eden Gardens where the crowd support helps them in crunch moments. Similarly, RCB plays in Bangalore, who get an advantage there. So, it will be interesting to see how they adjust themselves in neutral territory.”

MI will take on Chennai Super Kings in the opener on September 19 in Abu Dhabi.