IND vs NZ 2nd T20: India square series on turning pitch

On what Hardik Pandya called a shocker, no batsman hit a six all game, spinners bowled 30 overs, and India panted to reach a target of 100.

  • Rohit Singh | January 29, 2023 | 11:10 pm

For the second consecutive time in this T20I series, India and New Zealand got a pitch where it gripped and turned. But unlike Ranchi, where competent batsmen of spin could find runs, Lucknow was a furnace for batsmen. Anyone who could bowl spin was in with a chance of taking a wicket. That seamer bowled only 9.5 off the 39.5 overs, and India reached the target of 100 runs with just a ball to spare, would tell the story.

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The pitch took out an even contest between bat and ball. You could argue that in T20s the balance of the game is heavily tilted in batsmen’s favour. But it is what the format dictates. Thousands of people sacrifice their evenings to turn up at a stadium or switch their television sets or open their OTT platforms to watch batsmen teeing off from the start. It is the format at the forefront of cricket’s changing landscape – where even teams are getting to play even aggressively in Tests.

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India beat NZ on another turning track, levels T20 series

It has largely been possible because the groundsmen take demons out of the pitch, where they give the batsmen the ideal conditions to prosper. But at Lucknow, they had served what former India batsman Gautam Gambhir called a “sub-standard pitch” on Star Sports studio. Not without a reason, as not a single six was hit in the match. Unlike Tests and the ODIs where the characteristics of the pitches tend to vary from country to country, the unaccepted universal code for T20s is to roll out a flat deck.

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This was a pitch where India would have preferred having Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and Virat Kohli in their top three rather than Shubman Gill, Ishan Kishan and Rahul Tripathi. In 2015 as England pressed a reset button in limited-overs, one of the key aspects that often goes unnoticed was the revamping of seaming pitches into batting paradises. The curators dished out light brown pitches with plenty of runs on it and the right set of players – finger spinners, wrist-spinners, hit-the-deck pacers – to make the most out of the conditions. Fours years later, they won the World Cup.