India v Pakistan: Concerns over state of New York pitch for T20 World Cup clash

Nassau County stadium surface plagued by inconsistent bounce and heavy outfield

India's Rohit Sharma and Pakistan's Babar Azam are set to face off in Sunday's T20 World Cup clash in New York. AFP
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Anxiety is growing about the quality of the pitch and outfield at the New York ground that is set to host the much-awaited showdown between India and Pakistan at the T20 World Cup on Sunday.

Nassau County International Cricket Stadium has hosted two games so far in the tournament and both have been low scoring games.

Sri Lanka were bowled out for 77 against South Africa while Ireland could only manage 96 against India.

Not only were the games low scoring, the playing surface turned out to be borderline dangerous.

The makeshift venue has been built over the last few months with pitches being brought in from Australia and prepared in Florida before being transported to New York. That meant the pitch and square got no time to settle in or practice matches to be played on it to iron out any inconsistencies.

Practically every match there is on a fresh pitch and that is proving to be a nightmare for batsmen. In the game between Ireland and India, batsmen on both sides endured many hits to the body as the ball bounced unexpectedly off the pitch. In fact, captain Rohit Sharma had to retire hurt after a blow to the arm.

After the game, captain Rohit said the pitch did not settle down at any stage.

“It's a new ground, drop-in pitch. We weren't aware of what's it like to pay on a pitch that is five-months old,” the opener said. “It was all about getting used to the conditions, that's why we opted to bowl first. I don't think the wicket settled down even when we batted second.”

The surface in New York has received criticism from all corners. Former England captain Michael Vaughan said in a post on X, formerly Twitter: “Trying to sell the game in the States is great. Love it.

“But for players to have to play on this sub standard surface in New York is unacceptable. You work so hard to make it to the (World Cup) then have to play on this.”

Former Australia and Pakistan head coach Mickey Arthur wrote on X: “This pitch in New York is very poor!”

India batting coach Vikram Rathour admitted the surface is challenging and will require a lot of skill to negotiate.

“It was a challenging wicket and we were expecting a challenging wicket because we played a practice game here. So, we knew what to expect,” Rathour said.

“It is what it is. We need to find a way to deal with it and I think we have enough skills in the team and enough experience in the team to deal with it. We should be fine …

“We have enough good batters who can manage to bat well on any kind of surface. I think that has been our strength for many, many years. I think we can adapt really well to different conditions.”

What is adding to the anxiety is the potential danger posed to batsmen in Sunday's game. Fast bowlers on both sides have the potential to cause serious injuries if the ball continues to misbehave the way it did in the Ireland game.

Also, the outfield in Nassau County is extremely heavy with the ball stopping on the sand based surface. That means batsmen are unlikely to hit many boundaries along the ground and will have to rely a lot more on running.

As things stand, a high-scoring match between India and Pakistan on Sunday seems highly improbable.

Updated: June 06, 2024, 12:38 PM