Skipper Hardik Pandya on Sunday termed the Lucknow pitch a “shocker” after India edged New Zealand by six wickets in a low-scoring second T20 International to level the series at 1-1.
India restricted New Zealand, who won the opener of the three-match series, to just 99/8 with Yuzvendra Chahal leading the spin charge on a viciously turning pitch.
India then lost regular wickets as the Kiwi bowlers took it into the final over but Suryakumar Yadav hit an unbeaten 26 and along with Pandya (15 not out) anchored the tricky run chase to achieve the target with one ball to spare.
“To be honest, it was a shocker of a wicket,” Pandya said.
“I don’t mind difficult wickets. I am all up for that, but somewhere down the line the curators or the grounds that we are going to play in should make sure they prepare the pitches earlier.”
The series moves on to the decider in Ahmedabad on Wednesday.
The match witnessed 30 overs of spin without a six being hit in either innings.
The Kiwis just used 2.5 of overs from their fast bowlers. Spinners Michael Bracewell and Ish Sodhi took a wicket each.
17 overs of spin
“We bowled 17 overs of spin, definitely something different,” said New Zealand skipper Mitchell Santner. “With the bounce out there, it looked challenging.”
Chahal, a leg-spinner who came in as the only change in the team from the opening loss, bowled the fourth over of the innings and started with a wicket maiden.
He bowled just two overs for four runs and a wicket but it set the tone for his fellow bowlers, with left-arm quick Arshdeep Singh taking two.
New Zealand opener Finn Allen attempted to take on the Indian bowling with two straight boundaries in the third over after they elected to bat first, but was bowled by Chahal as he tried a reverse sweep.
The reverse sweep also proved to be the undoing of the next two batsmen, with Devon Conway caught behind off Washington Sundar and then Glenn Phillips bowled by Deepak Hooda.
New Zealand were in trouble when previous-match winner Daryl Mitchell was bowled by left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav, and slipped to 60-5 after a mid-pitch mix-up got Mark Chapman run out for 14.
Wickets kept tumbling and Arshdeep struck twice in one over to get into the New Zealand tail.
Santner made an unbeaten 19 but could not help New Zealand avoid their lowest T20 score against India.
In reply, India lost Shubman Gill after the opener hit two boundaries but fell to Bracewell’s off spin. He made 11.
Ishan Kishan was run out for 19 and the hosts looked in trouble when leg-spinner Sodhi took down Rahul Tripathi for 13.
Suryakumar, a T20 sensation and man of the match, stood firm and despite losing Sundar to a run out steered the team home as he put on an unbeaten stand of 31 with Pandya.