A cricket stadium in India has replaced its chief groundsman after players and pundits complained about a “shocker” pitch at a recent international against New Zealand, an official said Tuesday.
The low-scoring T20 match saw India reach the modest target of 100 with one ball and six wickets to spare at Lucknow’s Ekana stadium on Sunday.
It witnessed 30 overs of spin without a single six being hit in either innings, a highly unusual tally in the normally big-hitting format of the sport where pace bowling is used heavily.
“To be honest, it was a shocker of a wicket,” India skipper Hardik 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,” he said.
Indian media reported that the chief groundsman Surinder, who goes by one name, was given the axe the next day.
But Udai Sinha, managing director of the body that oversees Ekana’s sporting infrastructure, told AFP they have not fired anybody but confirmed that Surinder had been replaced by Sanjeev Agarwal.
“We haven’t taken anybody’s job,” Sinha said. “We have just brought in Sanjeev as the head curator to oversee the pitch preparation.”
The match saw India level the three-match series at 1-1 with the decider in Ahmedabad on Wednesday.
“Let’s be very honest, it was a sub-standard wicket and not a T20 wicket,” cricketer-turned-commentator Gautam Gambhir said.
“You don’t expect this kind of purchase from the spinners and it was tough,” Gambhir said on Star Sports.
Foreign teams visiting India frequently complain that the wickets prepared by ground staff often favour the home side’s spinners.
But New Zealand skipper Mitchell Santner said after the Lucknow game only that the match was “definitely something different” and the pitch “challenging.”