‘Not good enough’: New York T20 World Cup pitch slammed over farce

South Africa’s Anrich Nortje took as many as four wickets for just seven runs as the Proteas dismissed Sri Lanka for a record 77 on their way to a six-wicket victory in the team T20 World Cup opener in New York on Monday .

Sri Lanka’s total was the lowest in all of T20 cricket, with fast bowler Nortje’s results the best by a South African at the T20 World Cup, surpassing his 4/10 against Bangladesh in Sydney two years ago.

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“It’s been a while since I had these figures,” Nortje, the player of the match, said at the presentation ceremony.

“I’m just happy I made it for the team.

“We didn’t know what to expect from the camp, we had heard a couple of rumors of ups and downs.

Kagiso Rabada (2/21) and left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj, who took two wickets in two balls on his way to 22/2, also hurt the cause of the 2014 champions Sri Lanka.

Opener Kusal Mendis (19) and veteran all-rounder Angelo Mathews (16) were the only Sri Lanka batsmen to pass 15 after their captain, Wanindu Hasaranga, apparently misread the conditions by choosing to bat first after won the toss.

South Africa also lost opening wickets as their top order also struggled to time the ball on a drop-in pitch that is the cornerstone of a Long Island ground built specifically for the tournament.

But the great Heinrich Klaasen hit a six and a four off consecutive deliveries to reach 19 without being out as South Africa finished on 4/80 with 26 balls to spare.

The pitch was however severely criticized with former South African skipper Faf du Plessis calling it “spicy” while Indian cricket journalist Harsha Bhogle wrote in X that it was “I’m not sure this is the best introduction to cricket in a new land”.

Former India star Sanjay Manjrekar also took to the field.

“Overall, is it a suitable surface for a T20 game? I don’t think so,” Manjrekar told ESPN Cricinfo.

“As far as I’m concerned, it’s just not good enough for a T20 game.

“Yes, it has to be a balanced bat-ball wicket, but that is too much in favor of the bowlers.

“It won’t be easy for the batsmen at all.”

The difficulty both sides had in scoring runs raised fears that the showpiece match between arch-rivals India and Pakistan – due to be played at the pitch on June 9 – could become a lottery.

South African skipper Aiden Markram, whose team have two more matches to go, said: “It’s credit to what we did on the pitch, but the batting was a bit see-saw.

“It was a pretty tough wicket… We’re lucky to have our next two here and have a good idea of ​​how he’s going to play, but it’s important to evaluate as you go and make plans.”

Spinner Hasaranga took 2/22 but in truth had too few runs to play with after a Sri Lanka innings in which he was one of the four ducks.

“We were hoping for 160-170, but now we know it was more of a 120-130 wicket, especially with our bowlers,” Hasaranga said.

“We wanted to perform a lot better.”

South African fast bowler Ottneil Baartman, on his World Cup debut, sparked Sri Lanka’s collapse when, with his first ball, he caught Pathum Nissanka in the deep before Nortje dismissed Kamindu Mendis in similar fashion.

Maharaj then scored twice in the ninth while both Hasaranga, stumped by de Kock and Sadeera Samarawickrama, hit by a quicker delivery, fell for naught to leave Sri Lanka 4/32 before Charith Asalanka survived the hat-trick.

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