The pitch used for the second T20I between India and New Zealand here came under scrutiny, with India skipper Hardik Pandya describing it as a “shocker”.
The surface at Lucknow provided a sharp turn and spongy bounce from start to finish, resulting in a low-scoring affair. New Zealand crawled to 99 for eight batting first, and the Indian batters had a similarly tough time of it, only reaching the small target with a ball to spare.
“To be honest, this was a shocker of a wicket,” Pandya told the host broadcaster.
The captain was also unhappy with the pitch used in the first T20I, at Ranchi. “The kind of wickets we played the two games on… I don’t mind difficult wickets. I’m all up for that, but these wickets are not made for T20s. Somewhere down the line, the curator or stadium, wherever we play T20s, they should make sure they prepare the game (pitch) previously rather than having a couple of games there,” Pandya said.
That the pitch would assist spin became clear as early as in the second over of the match when off-spinner Washington Sundar was introduced into the attack. This explained why India used four slow bowlers - Washington, Yuzvendra Chahal, Deepak Hooda, and Kuldeep Yadav. Pacers Arshdeep Singh and Shivam Mavi got the ball almost as an afterthought, late in the Kiwi essay.
“Even 120 could have been a winning total. After I bowled the first over, when Washy (Washington) bowled, it was a clear sign that this wicket will help spinners. That’s why we made sure we kept rotating the spinners, and we made sure that the batters do not get set,” Pandya said.
‘It’s cool to play on a different wicket’
New Zealand off-spinner Michael Bracewell had a different take on the Lucknow pitch, saying it provided a welcome test of skill.
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“I think it was cool to play on a different wicket. If you play on a wicket that’s flat all the time, then you don’t get a true test of your skill. Playing on a variety of wickets around the world is a positive thing. India were just too good today on a wicket that probably suited their style of play. The Indian players have obviously grown up playing in these conditions as well. We can’t complain; it’s exciting to try and figure out a way to play on these wickets,” Bracewell said.