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'This was a shocker of a wicket' - Hardik Pandya critical of Lucknow pitch

Gambhir, Neesham also echo India captain's thoughts; Bracewell reckons it wasn't a bad advertisement for T20s

Deivarayan Muthu
30-Jan-2023
India's stand-in captain Hardik Pandya has described the Lucknow pitch as a "shocker" after his side chased down 100 with just a ball to spare in the second T20I against New Zealand. The Ekana Stadium track offered big turn throughout the game, much like how the Ranchi pitch did in the first T20I on Friday.
"To be honest, this was a shocker of a wicket," Hardik told Star Sports at the post-match presentation. "Two games… the kind of wickets we played on, I don't mind difficult wickets. I'm all up for that but these wickets are not made for T20 ... Other than that, very happy [with the result]."
On Sunday, the spinners bowled 30 out of the 40 overs in a match that produced zero sixes. It is two more overs than the previous record for most overs bowled by spinners from Full-Member teams in a T20I.
Hardik added that there was so much happening off the surface that the batters had to be quite circumspect. "It wasn't that it was a slow, turning wicket," he said. "But actually it was carrying through very well and to be honest, it was a shocker of a wicket. We were just playing the ball and seeing whichever the best opportunity or whichever the best position we can get in and made sure we keep rotating the strike."

Santner: 'Was trying to find spinners from everywhere'

New Zealand captain Mitchell Santner was surprised by the amount of purchase the spinners got later in the evening. There was so much assistance that he squeezed out four overs from wicketkeeper-turned-part-time offspinner Glenn Phillips. Mark Chapman, also a part-time fingerspinner, pitched in with an over of his own, as New Zealand dragged the game down to the very last over, despite posting just 99 for 8.
"It was obviously a great game of cricket," Santner said, "To get it so close was a pretty good effort from the boys. If we got an extra 10-15 [runs], it could've been the difference, but I think the calmness of Hardik and Surya [Suryakumar Yadav] to get them over the line was pretty good. I was trying to find them [spinners] from everywhere. I was asking Lockie [Ferguson] if he could bowl some offspin but yeah I think you don't often see more than 12 overs of spin out there. I think maybe we bowled 16 or 17, so it's definitely something different."

Gambhir, Neesham also critical of Lucknow track

Speaking on Star Sports, former India batter Gautam Gambhir and New Zealand allrounder James Neesham echoed Hardik's thoughts on the pitch.
"I don't think the New Zealand batsmen were found wanting," Neesham said. "I think that was, like GG [Gautam Gambhir] mentioned, a 'sub-standard' surface, I don't think anyone really played the sort of fluent innings through both innings. So, obviously two very high-quality spin-bowling attacks, but when a good number of people turn up at the ground to watch and want to be entertained, it's a bit of shame but the silver lining was it ended up being a bit of a low-scoring thriller."

Bracewell: 'A variety of wickets around the world is a positive thing'

Michael Bracewell, who picked up 1 for 13 in his four overs, wasn't as critical of the Lucknow track, and reckoned that it wasn't necessarily a bad advertisement for T20 cricket.
"No, I think it was cool to play on a different wicket, and as I said earlier, it's one of those ones where if you play on a wicket like that all the time or if you or if you play on a wicket that's flat all the time, then you don't get a true test of your skill," Bracewell said at his post-match press conference. "So, I think a variety of wickets around the world is a positive thing and India were just too good today on a wicket that probably suited their style of play and obviously growing up playing in those conditions as well. So, it's one of those ones where you expect different wickets around the world and we can't complain; it's exciting to try and figure out a way to play on these wickets."

Mhambrey: 'You have to ask curator about behaviour of pitch'

India's bowling coach Paras Mhambrey also spoke of the challenges posed by the Ekana Stadium surface, and praised his four-man spin attack, which was bolstered by the return of legspinner Yuzvendra Chahal.
"Firstly when we saw the wicket, we realised that it was on the drier side," Mhambrey said at his post-match press conference. "Obviously, there was a little bit of grass covering in the middle, but there was no grass at both the ends. So, when we came yesterday, it looked like it would turn. We realised that it would be a challenging wicket. The reason [why the pitch behaved like that]... you have to ask the curator.
"Was it time? or I don't know and I think he's the right person to answer that question. But yeah definitely it was challenging. We knew that it would be a big challenge and luckily happy with the way we controlled the game. I think we allowed 100 runs and anything beyond 120-130, I thought it would have been more challenging but we did well to restrict them to 99 and give us a reasonable target to chase."

Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo