T20 World Cup, India vs Pakistan: Surface tension in New York | Cricket News

Doubts rise ahead of India-Pakistan blockbuster as new drop-in pitch behaves erratically, leading to fear of injury and low-scoring games
NEW YORK: In all the euphoria of cricket coming to America, there now appears to be a cloud of doubt hanging over the most crucial component of the sport, the pitch. In two back-to-back games at the Nassau International Cricket Ground in New York – the venue for the high-profile India-Pakistan game on Sunday – teams have been bowled out for less than 100 and the chases haven’t been easy.
Sri Lanka were dismissed for 77 and it took South Africa 16.4 overs to get over the line. The Indian top-order also struggled to chase 97 against Ireland on Wednesday. While the Irish looked like fish out of water while batting, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Rishabh Pant too had to struggle before India opened their account.
What’s more crucial is the fact that the winner of the toss is calling the shots. In addition to the up-and-down nature of the pitch, the 10:30 am starts have meant the white ball is moving around so much that batting is looking really hard at the moment.
“Yes, the toss is crucial and fortunately we won the toss today (against Ireland). It allowed us to control the game,” batting coach Vikram Rathour said. But it didn’t take too long for the discussion to veer towards the India-Pakistan match and when he was asked what would be a par score batting first, Rathour merely said: “Whatever we can get”.
Former India spinner Harbhajan Singh, who is doing commentary here, too sounded concerned. “The worrying bit is one delivery is shooting up, one is keeping a bit down. Anything can happen on a track like this,” Harbhajan told TOI.
The one man who had to deal fire with fire was skipper Rohit. Despite a shaky start, he held on to score 52 before being hit by a ball that rose up to hit his shoulder. The captain retired hurt, though he later clarified that “it’s just a little sore” and there’s no concern about his participation in the Pakistan game.
“It’s just a little sore (the arm). Quite unsure of what to expect from the pitch. Not aware on what it is to play like on a pitch that’s five months old,” Rohit said. “I don’t think the wicket settled down even when we batted second. There was enough for the bowlers.”
Rohit has played enough cricket to know that the decibels will increase manifold when it’s Pakistan and any adverse result will add to the noise. “I don’t know what to expect from the pitch to be honest, but we will prepare as if the conditions are going to be like this,” the skipper said.
Rathour, on the other hand, is banking on the quality of India’s batting lineup to deal with whatever challenges that come their way. “It is a challenging wicket and have to find ways. We have the skill and experience, there are players who know how to deal with these conditions,” he said.
The International Cricket Council admitted on Thursday that the pitch in New York has not played satisfactorily and that the groundstaff is working hard to salvage the situation ahead of the big India-Pakistan game on Sunday. “T20 Inc and the ICC recognise that the pitches used so far at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium have not played as consistently as we would all have wanted,” ICC said in the statement.
“The world-class grounds team has been working hard since the conclusion of yesterday’s game to remedy the situation and deliver the best possible surfaces for the remaining matches.”


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