Former India left-handed batter Gautam Gambhir and New Zealand fast-bowling all-rounder James Neesham were critical about the nature of the Lucknow pitch for the second T20I between India and New Zealand at Ekana Stadium on Sunday, 29 January.
In what turned out to be a low-scoring thriller, New Zealand were restricted to just 99/8 in their 20 overs. In reply, India almost made a meal of the chase as New Zealand used five spinners to put pressure on them.
With three runs needed off two balls, Suryakumar Yadav slapped Blair Tickner over mid-off for four to level the three-match series 1-1.
In the match, spinners from both teams got huge turn as they bowled 30 out of 40 overs, with no six hit by batters from both teams.
"Let's be very honest, it was a sub-standard wicket and not a T20 wicket. You don't expect this kind of purchase from the spinners and it was tough. When you are chasing 100, your ability to play spin, your ability to rotate the strike comes into the picture," said Gambhir on the broadcast after the match ended.
Gambhir also expressed surprise over how the game went down the wire. "I was surprised by the way Indian batters played against spin. They could have played much better and shouldn't have taken that deep. New Zealand were very competitive and had brilliant captaincy from Mitchell Santner. They were able to take the game so deep."
Bit of a Shame: James Neesham
Neesham, on the other hand, pointed out that no batter found fluency on a sticky red-soil Lucknow pitch, adding that the huge crowd in Lucknow found some entertainment at the fag end of the game as the pitch wasn't conducive for stroke-play seen in T20Is.
"I don't think the New Zealand batsmen were found wanting. I think that was, like GG (Gautam Gambhir) mentioned, a 'sub-standard' surface, I don't think anyone really played the sort of fluent innings through both innings."
"So, obviously two very high-quality spin-bowling attacks, but when a good number of people turn up at the ground to watch and want to be entertained, it's a bit of shame but the silver lining was it ended up being a bit of a low-scoring thriller."
With the three-match series now levelled at 1-1, India and New Zealand will play the decider at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on Wednesday, 1 February.