Teams travelling to India frequently voice strong objections when they encounter a spin-conducive cricket pitch, deeming it unfavorable, hazardous, and inadequate for the sport. However, New Zealand spinner Michael Bracewell did not express any grievances following their loss to India in the second T20I of the three-game series on a spin-friendly surface in Lucknow, despite the low-scoring match.
New Zealand were restricted to just 99/8 in their 20 overs on a pitch on which the ball took copious amounts of turn and was unplayable at times. 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 a huge turn as they bowled 30 out of 40 overs, with no six hit by batters from both teams. While former India left-handed batter Gautam Gambhir and New Zealand fast-bowling all-rounder James Neesham were critical of the nature of the Lucknow pitch, Bracewell, however, did not gripe about the surface despite being asked leading questions on the nature of the surface.
Though he said he would not want to play on such a surface regularly, he said they have learnt their lessons from such matches. "It's probably not a wicket that you want to play on every single time you play a Twenty-20, but once every now and then is an exciting opportunity to learn and try and grow your skills," Bracewell said in the post-match press conference.
"We can't complain. It's exciting to try and figure out a way to play on these different wickets. If you play on a wicket like that all the time or a wicket that's flat all the time, you don't get a true test of your skills. I think a variety of wickets around the world is a positive thing," Bracewell added.
Bracewell is usually starved of any assistance from pitches at home and could expect this kind of help for spinners only in his dreams. He said spinners from both sides bowled well on the pitch in Lucknow. "I think both teams showed that the spinners bowled really well and made it really difficult to score. Not having a six scored in the game is probably a reflection of that. It was not an easy wicket to bat on, and it's one of those games, a very exciting game, but probably a little bit different to the normal Twenty20 that we expect."
With the ball spinning so much, New Zealand skipper Mitchell Santner himself turned his arm over as spinners bowled 17 of the 19.5 overs for the Black Caps. "I was trying to find them [spinners] from everywhere, I was going to ask Lockie [Ferguson] if he could bowl some off-spin....it was definitely something different," Santner said.
The two teams will next square off in the 3rd and final T20I in Ahmedabad on Wednesday, Feb 1.
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