Pandya laments 'shocker' pitch after India sneak past New Zealand

By Sports Desk January 29, 2023

India's stand-in captain Hardik Pandya lamented a "shocker" of a pitch at Ekana Stadium and called for better surfaces after a slender T20I victory over New Zealand.

The hosts edged past the Black Caps with one ball remaining in Lucknow, winning by six wickets in a low-scoring thriller to level the three-match T20I series.

New Zealand only managed 99-8 from their 20-over allocation on a difficult wicket but made India wait until the final over for victory as Suryakumar Yadav saw his side over the line with a vital 26 not out.

Pandya, captaining in the absence of white-ball veteran Rohit Sharma, was alongside Suryakumar at the end unbeaten on 15 but expressed his disappointment with the surface at home.

"I always believed we will finish the game," Pandya said. "It went quite deep, but that is how it is. In these kinds of games, it is important to not panic.

"Rather than taking risks, we rotated the strike. Having said that, this is a shocker of a pitch. We need to make sure we have better pitches. Even 120 would have been a winning total here.

"We kept to our plans, we made sure they did not rotate the strike, and the wickets kept falling. Dew didn't play much of a role because if you see they were able to spin the ball more than us.

"It was a shocker of a wicket. The ball was flying for even the fast bowlers."

The in-form Suryakumar continues to rise his stock within white-ball cricket, though his 31-ball 26 was a far cry from his usual flamboyance and aggressive shot-making.

Having blasted 112 and 51 in his two previous T20I appearances against Sri Lanka earlier in January, Suryakumar acknowledged an alternate approach was required on Sunday.

"A different version of [Suryakumar] today," he said after receiving the Player of the Match award. "Adapting to the situation was very important. After losing [Washington Sundar], I had to make sure I batted until the end.

"[Sundar's run out] was my mistake, I didn't see where the ball went. Of course, it was a challenging wicket, but you have to be able to adapt.

"We just needed one hit in the end, and it was very important to calm ourselves down.

"Before I got the winning runs, Hardik came up to me and told me you will hit the winning runs this ball. That gave me a lot of confidence."

With an ODI series victory already secured, India will look for a white-ball double over New Zealand in Wednesday's T20I decider in Ahmedabad.

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