Report suggests Indian team management behind pitch mess up in Lucknow
While it is the pitch curator at the Ekana Stadium in Lucknow who has faced the brunt for an underwhelming surface after the second India-New Zealand T20I, a report in the Indian Express suggests, the Indian team management was partly responsible for the mess.
According to sources within the Uttar Pradesh Cricket Association (UPCA), reported Indian Express, the curator in Lucknow has been sacked after the Indian team just about managed to crawl to the 100-run target and attained series parity against New Zealand, who collected a horrible 99/8 off their 20 overs.
Stand-in captain Hardik Pandya deemed the surface an absolute "shocker" in context of T20 cricket, which further raised the spotlight on the curator that prepared the surface.
However, as per the report by the Indian Express, Pandya and head coach Rahul Dravid's "11th-hour request" for a change in the surface was partly responsible for the fiasco that unveiled.
Team management behind the Lucknow pitch mess?
"The curator had prepared two black soil pitches for the game in advance," Indian Express reported, as told by the sources privy to the developments. "However, at the behest of a last-minute request from team management three days prior to the match, the curator had been asked to prepare a fresh pitch made of red soil instead."
"The new pitch could not be adequately prepared on short notice, and led to even slower conditions," as would've been the risk when the curating team started working on the alternative pitch at a very short notice.
Notably, there was a healthy green patch holding the track together in-between the surface but the area close to the stumps on either side was excessively dry, which led to a turner and spinners ruling the roost, delivering 30 of the 39.5 overs that got played.
"The curator is the right person to answer that question (on pitch)," said India's bowling coach Paras Mhambrey at the post-match press conference. "There was a little grass covering on the middle, but there was none on both ends. When we came yesterday, it looked like it would turn and we realised it would be challenging."
Being more outspoken about the track, former India opener Gautam Gambhir called it a "substandard" pitch during his broadcasting duties with Star Sports.
The curator who prepared the surface has now been sent on a forced leave by UPCA, with Gwalior-based Sanjeev Agarwal asked to come in and prepare a fresh square to be used for the forthcoming edition of the IPL, where Lucknow Super Giants (LSG) will play their home games.