Rohit Sharma retires hurt in India’s opening T20 World Cup game

India
India captain Rohit Sharma retired hurt after scoring a half-century in their opening fixture of the T20 World Cup against Ireland in New York. He was struck on the upper arm by a delivery from Josh Little in the ninth over of the chase and walked off after hitting the next two balls for six, having contributed 52 off 37 balls to India’s chase of 97 in extremely difficult batting conditions.
Rohit said he was “just a little sore” at the post-match presentation following India’s eight-wicket victory. “I said it at the toss, we were quite unsure of what to expect from the pitch. It’s a new ground, new venue, drop-in pitch, we weren’t aware of what’s it like to pay on a pitch that is five-months old. 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. There was enough for the bowlers, all in all, happy to get those two points, was very important.”
Rishabh Pant was also struck by Little in the 11th over of the chase, on a pitch that posed several challenges to the batters. He needed some attention from the physio but continued his innings, finishing unbeaten 36 off 26 balls.
Former Zimbabwe batter and England head coach Andy Flower said the pitch in New York was “bordering on dangerous,” after Ireland had been shot out for 96 after getting sent into bat in New York.

“I have got to say that is not a good surface to play an international match on. It’s bordering on dangerous,” Flower said on ESPNcricinfo’s Timeout show. “You saw the ball bouncing from a length, both ways. So skidding low occasionally but in the main bouncing unusually high and striking people on the thumb, on the gloves, on the helmet and making life very very difficult for any batsman.

“The Indian quicks were good enough to exploit it [the conditions], you’ve got to get that to them,” Flower said. “They kept their game plan really simple, they hit the deck hard on a good length and that was all you needed to do. And it proved to be very tricky batting conditions for any side let alone a smaller cricketing nation like Ireland taking on the giants of India.”

Former India batter Sanjay Manjrekar said that something had gone wrong during the preparation of the pitch.

“You have seen dangerous pitches before as well at the international level but something has gone wrong with the preparation where either the pitch has been under-prepared or something that is beyond their control,” Manjrekar said on ESPNcricinfo’s Timeout show. “This seems more like something beyond their control, where they have put in a lot of work in trying to get the right surface in the Big Apple and all that. But I said couple of days back as well, what can they do to make this pitch better? I am sure it is not lack of effort. At the most what you can do is keep rolling that drop-in pitch but they have a problem in hand. Inherently, I think there is something wrong with the base of that surface.”

The game between Sri Lanka and South Africa in New York on June 3 also had the batters in strife, though that was played on a different surface. Sri Lanka were bowled out for 77 in 19.1 overs while South Africa took 16.2 overs to complete a six-wicket win.

“Maybe it is a case of, I mean it is a very strong statement, where it seems like the horse has been put before the cart,” Manjrekar said. “You know this excitement of having cricket in New York. I think Florida has been pretty okay over the years. But cricket in New York…but unfortunately, what is the most important thing isn’t quite living up to the hype, which is the pitch and the general conditions, which is unfortunate.”

The New York surface was criticised by former international cricketers as well on social media. Michael Vaughan called the pitch “sub-standard” and “shocking”, while Wasim Jaffer felt it was a good way to get the American audience “hooked on to Test cricket disguised as T20”.

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