India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said that the pitches in Mirpur during the Asia Cup haven’t been conducive for T20s but such conditions are helping his team’s batsmen to play with more circumspection. His bowlers hit his preferred lengths to knock over Pakistan for just 83 and in response India lost five wickets before completing the chase.
“We scored 166 in one match but frankly we were going to score 140,” Dhoni said. “Other than that there have been low-scoring games which I feel is not that good. We thought it would be good practice ahead of the World T20, so it’s not a good practice in terms of hitting but yes in terms of respecting the conditions.”
Dhoni said that he didn’t think low-scoring games should see teams getting bowled out for below 100 runs but rather teams should be making at least 130 or 140.
“The reason why people love T20 is the sixes and fours,” Dhoni said. “At the same time you don’t want [teams scoring] 80s and 100s. Low scoring should be 130-140 and high-scoring can be 200 or 240. In a way, it’s good for us because we are a side that plays aggressive cricket. What it does, it pushes us to respect the conditions. In the coming games the openers won’t go with a set mindset.
“What happened in Australia, we knew the wickets were good, which is not the case here. I feel it’s good practice for us. Whether it is good for T20 cricket that’s difficult [to say]. The amount of movement we have seen, it is very difficult to get the big shots.”
The average score for teams batting first has progressively gone down in Mirpur since February 22 when Afghanistan posted 178 for 7 against Oman. Teams have henceforth scored 172, 166, 129, 133 and 83 batting first.
At least three of those matches have been played on green tops and Dhoni claimed at the toss on Saturday that it was a greener surface than the one they played on against Bangladesh on February 24.
There are seven pitches in the Shere Bangla National Stadium with the two on the extreme ends hardly used because it cuts down the boundary sizes. The five in the middle have hosted 10 Under-19 World Cup games since January 28, and towards the end of that tournament, the pitches were reacting to cooler weather conditions. They had become sticky with the humidity, and juiced up for fast bowling which was evident in the Under-19 World Cup semi-finals and final.
In this tournament, the preference has been towards adding cut grass to the surface in the first game between India and Bangladesh, while the pitch used two days later in the match between Bangladesh and the UAE had live grass and green patches that aided seam movement greatly. The idea to use cut grass is often to keep the square binded for heavy use in short tournaments. It has happened in the past too, as the Mirpur venue is one of the most used venues in Bangladesh.
The focus has been to avoid presenting a poor surface towards the end of such tournaments, particularly in the final, which seems to be the case in the Asia Cup too.
Cut grass can be taken off and it might be in the coming days because of the hue and cry over the pitches. But what would be of more interest is what is underneath, and whether that too would aid the bowlers.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.