Indian cricket team's T20I captain Hardik Pandya expressed his displeasure with the pitch for the second game of the ongoing three-match series against New Zealand. He was speaking after India registered a narrow win over the Black Caps in the game played in Lucknow, on Sunday, 29 January.
It was a low-scoring thriller and the Kiwi bowlers did exceptionally well to take the match into the 20th over after their team posted only 99/8 in 20 overs. The Men in Blue made a mess of the run chase but Suryakumar Yadav (26*) and Hardik Pandya (15*) batted till the end to see the team through.
The India captain reckoned that the pitches for the first two matches of this T20I series, in Ranchi and Lucknow, respectively, were not suited for games of the shortest format. Speaking at the post-match presentation ceremony, the ace all-rounder stated:
"To be honest, it was a shocker of a wicket. I am all for slow wickets but these two wickets are not good for T20s. They should make sure they prepare it and keep it ready. Other than that, I am happy."
Hardik, however, lauded the bowlers for putting up outstanding performances. He also felt that 120 would have been a winning total on this pitch.
"The way the game went, even 120 would have been a winning total," Hardik continued. "But the bowlers stuck to their plans, we kept taking wickets. When Washi bowled, it was a clear sign that the wicket will assist the spinners. Eventually, they played a lot of dot balls and had to take risks and we got a couple of wickets."
Arshdeep Singh was the pick of the Indian bowlers, returning with figures of 2/7 in two overs. Yuzvendra Chahal, Washington Sundar, Kuldeep Yadav, Deepak Hooda, and Hardik Pandya picked up one wicket apiece to restrict the Blackcaps to 99.
"I was inside to make sure that the guys inside are calm" - Hardik Pandya
Chasing a small total, India were in a spot of bother, losing their top three batters cheaply once again. Fans were surprised to see the left-handed Sundar come out to bat at No. 5 ahead of Hardik Pandya.
Explaining the rationale behind the decision, the Indian skipper said:
"Not really. I always believed we would be able to finish the game but it went quite late. That's why I was inside to make sure that the guys inside are calm. You don't need to panic. It was about rotating the strike rather than taking pressure."
With the series now level at 1-1 after two matches, both teams will travel to Ahmedabad for the final game of the series on Wednesday, February 1.
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