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IND vs NZ T20: Surface under fire

Updated on: 31 January,2023 10:22 AM IST  |  Lucknow
Santosh Suri |

India bowling coach Mhambrey mum on Lucknow pitch after skipper Hardik Pandya calls it a ‘shocker’ as both teams struggle for fluency in second T20

IND vs NZ T20: Surface under fire

India’s skipper Hardik Pandya and Suryakumar Yadav (right) during their partnership against New Zealand at Lucknow on Sunday. Pic/AFP

More often than not, it’s the quality of the pitch that dictates a cricket match. That was the case on Sunday at the Ekana Stadium on a pitch that afforded turn and bounce to the spinners. The New Zealand team who generally rely on quality pace bowlers, used their spinners for 17 overs. Thus, a target of a mere 100 seemed like climbing Mt Everest for the Indian team. Although they won by six wickets, the match went down to the wire with the winning boundary by Suryakumar Yadav coming off the penultimate delivery.

Played the extra spinner

India’s bowling coach Paras Mhambrey wasn’t too harsh on the nature of the surface. “The curator is the right person to answer that question [on the pitch]. But definitely, we knew it would be a big challenge and luckily we controlled the game. It was due to the dry nature of the pitch India went in with an extra spinner in Yuzi [Chahal] and why the batsmen struggled to bat fluently. Thus, the low-scoring game went [down] to the wire,” Mhambrey said in the post-match press conference.

Bowling coach Paras MhambreyBowling coach Paras Mhambrey

Surya, who is known for his scintillating strokeplay all around the park, played the waiting game on a pitch where playing strokes was very difficult. Ultimately, his effort helped the Indian cause and he was adjudged the man of the match.    

“Adapting to the situation was very important. After losing Washy [Washington Sundar], I had to make sure I bat till the end. Of course, it was a challenging wicket, but you have to be able to adapt. We just needed one hit in the end, and it was very important to calm ourselves down,” Surya said after the match.

Skipper Pandya did not approve of the pitch, saying: “To be honest, it was a shocker of a wicket. In fact, both the games we have played so far have been on difficult surfaces. Such wickets are not suited for T20 cricket. In other formats I am fine with it. Somewhere down the line the curators should prepare pitches earlier, giving more time to prepare the pitch.”  

Also read: IND vs NZ: India beat New Zealand by six wickets in 2nd T20 match, level series

Sundar doesn’t mind it

Sundar, however, did not mind the quality of the pitch, saying: “I am sure everyone watching would have been on their toes. This has been very, very exciting. Two-three games like this out of every 10-11 games would be amazing.”

New Zealand’s off-spinner Michael Bracewell also wasn’t overtly critical of the pitch and said: “Once in a way such pitches do challenge the players, who otherwise are more used to flat surfaces.” As the teams travel to Ahmedabad for the deciding match to be played on Wednesday, one is left wondering if it will be another turning track, or not.

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