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Uncharted Territory’: Ekana Stadium Pitch Set to Host World Cup Matches

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The Ekana Cricket Stadium in Lucknow is all set to host five matches during the upcoming ODI World Cup, including a high-profile clash between India and England on October 29. However, there’s a lingering question mark over the newly laid wicket at this venue, which is yet to be adequately tested in competitive conditions.

While the stadium has already hosted a few international matches since its inauguration in November 2018, including a Test, four men’s ODIs, six men’s T20Is, and five IPL matches, it has developed a reputation as a challenging pitch for batsmen.

The Uttar Pradesh Cricket Association (UPCA) made the decision to re-lay the wicket after a T20I match in January, where India struggled to chase down New Zealand’s modest total of 99, reaching 100 in 19.5 overs and winning by just two wickets. Stand-in captain Hardik Pandya described the pitch as a “shocker.” Following the match, curator Surendra Chauhan was removed from his position, and the decision to re-lay the square was taken. The UPCA brought in curator Sanjeev Agarwal from Gwalior to oversee the re-laying process.

“We conducted a few local matches on Friday and Saturday, and the bounce of the re-laid pitch and the square are perfect,” stated UPCA’s CEO Ankit Chatterjee. “Now the venue has been handed over to ICC (the organizers of the World Cup). So, no further practice matches are possible now,” he added.

However, some experts are concerned about the lack of practice matches on the newly laid pitch. Daljit Singh, former chief of the BCCI’s pitches and grounds committee, emphasized the importance of testing newly laid pitches before hosting competitive international games on them, citing pitch manuals that recommend such trials.

The ICC remains optimistic about the venue despite the concerns, noting that the square has undergone extensive renovation since its previous use by the Lucknow Super Giants. The World Cup fixture between Australia and South Africa on October 12 will be the first-ever World Cup match hosted at the Ekana Cricket Stadium, marking a significant moment for the venue.

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