The outfield was rated as “average” after the Afghanistan-Bangladesh match by the ICC’s independent pitch consultant, as “comfortable” with its condition
England’s frontier spinners are bracing for a difficult day in Dharamshala on Tuesday after their former batsman and current Afghanistan coach Jonathan Trott warned them about the condition of the pitch at the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) stadium.
The grass on the sandy pitch is patchy and uneven, and several players slipped or lost their balance while playing deep in the field during Bangladesh’s six-wicket victory over Afghanistan on Saturday. The pitch has been a long-standing problem at the stadium, which resulted in the India-Australia Test being moved to Indore in February at short notice.
Trott said Mujeeb Ur Rahman was “lucky” to avoid a “serious knee injury” when his knee went into the turf as he tried to save a goal. He is understood to have contacted the England players to warn them about his health ahead of the match against Bangladesh.
The match officials’ report for Saturday’s match described the condition of the pitch as “average”, while Andy Atkinson, the ICC’s independent pitch consultant, inspected it on Sunday and described it as “good” due to its condition.
“The process of assessing the condition of the pitch and outfield is the responsibility of match officials as part of the ICC Pitch and Outfield Monitoring Process and after the Afghanistan vs Bangladesh match, the outfield in Dharamshala was rated as average,” an ICC spokesperson said. “Additionally, the ICC’s independent pitch consultant looked at today’s pitch and is satisfied with the conditions, as is Javagal Srinath, the match referee for the next match.”
HPCA ground staff watered the pitch immediately after the match and did so again on Sunday afternoon, particularly around the bowlers’ runs. Tuesday’s match will be played on a fresh pitch, two lanes away from what was an exceptionally slow surface for Saturday’s.
In a worst-case scenario, referees could – after consulting the match referee – deem the condition of the pitch to be “dangerous or unreasonable”, which would first lead to a suspension of play and then abandonment of play. In this case, the teams would share the points. On Tuesday, Ahsan Raza and Paul Wilson will be the permanent umpires while Srinath will be the match referee.
Jonny Bairstow, who spent eight months out last year with an ankle injury, said it would be difficult for defenders to overcome their tendency to look for the ball but he expected England to be as “clever and smart” as they hoped. to avoid serious injury.
– There was a lot of talk about this, right? Bairstow said. “The last thing you want is two guys leaving with a knee injury or something. This can also contribute to shoulder injuries if you dive and your elbows get stuck in the ground. It will be very difficult to stop someone if they see the ball and try to stop it: that’s a natural reaction when they want to use it.”
Bairstow’s ankle continues to “get better over time.” He said: “It is still relatively fresh. But if you touch the wood, there was no adverse reaction to various surfaces. Your calves, your Achilles tendons, everything else… people need to make sure you do everything you can to make sure those areas are loose and able to handle the stress of a sand-based pitch.”
The pitch was slow during Sunday’s match and Bairstow said England would have to adapt to that. “It can also affect the angles and where you stand: when the ball hits a sandy pitch, it may not fly off as much. It just affects other things. It’s as if the pitch was different [from] from one place to another: you just have to adapt. Touch wood, we haven’t had any major incidents. “
The state of the frontcourt could be a factor in England being unlikely to select Ben Stokes, who missed the nine-wicket defeat to New Zealand with a left hip injury. On Sunday, Stokes spent half an hour batting at the net, but he faced only sidearm shots, not bowlers, and moved cautiously throughout the match.
Then he briefly conducted running exercises in the main square. Stokes did not feature in any of England’s warm-up matches – he was dismissed in the first, but was not expected to play – and has batted only once since arriving in India, during a training session in Guwahati.
Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98
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