Pakistan coach Gary Kirsten defends New York pitch

Published June 10, 2024
Pakistan white-ball coach Gary Kirsten oversees his team’s training session for T20 World Cup 2024 in Dallas on June 5. — ESPNcricinfo
Pakistan white-ball coach Gary Kirsten oversees his team’s training session for T20 World Cup 2024 in Dallas on June 5. — ESPNcricinfo

Pakistan coach Gary Kirsten defended the playing surface at New York’s T20 Cricket World Cup venue on Sunday following his team’s defeat to India in a low-scoring contest.

India were bowled out for 119, their lowest-ever score against Pakistan in a T20 game but won by six runs after their rivals fell just short.

All five games at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium, which features a ‘drop in’ square, laid a month before the tournament, have been low-scoring affairs.

There had been criticism of the surface after India’s win over Ireland last week with former Zimbabwe international and ex-England team director Andy Flower calling it “dangerous” because of the uneven bounce.

But Sunday’s wicket, while hard to score on, provided only the occasional ball which ‘popped’ off a length and Kirsten said it had made for an interesting game.

“I think it wasn’t dangerous, I mean the odd one rose up, but not many. Generally, it kept a little bit lower, it was difficult to score from both batting sides and also a fairly slow outfield so it was never going to be a big total,” said Kirsten.

“I would have said 140 would have been a really good score on that pitch, so India didn’t get that and so I thought we had the game,” added the South African.

Kirsten said that while boundaries had been at a premium, unusually for the big-hitting T20 format, that simply made for a different kind of contest.

“We knew it was going to be tight, but you know sometimes it’s fun seeing games like that as well, it’s not always about sixes and hitting, getting 260 and 240s, you can actually have a really entertaining game on a 120 chase, so I don’t think it’s bad for the game,” he said.

Last week’s complaints led the International Cricket Council (ICC) to accept that the wickets hadn’t been up to standards for the opening games at the venue.

“T20 Inc and the ICC recognise that the pitches used so far at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium have not played as consistently as we would have all wanted,” the ICC said in a statement.

“The world-class grounds team have been working hard since the conclusion of yesterday’s game to remedy the situation and deliver the best possible surfaces for the remaining matches,” they added.

Three games remain at the venue with the last coming on Wednesday when India face co-hosts USA.

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