The Ekana Cricket Stadium in Lucknow is set to host five matches in the upcoming ODI World Cup, including India’s match against England on October 29. The stadium, which hosted its first international match in November 2018, has gained a reputation for being a challenging venue for batsmen.
The decision to re-lay the wicket at Ekana Stadium came after a T20I match in January where India struggled to reach 100 runs in 19.5 overs while chasing New Zealand’s total of 99. Stand-in skipper Hardik Pandya described the pitch as a “shocker.” Following that match, curator Surendra Chauhan was dismissed by the stadium administration, and it was decided to re-lay the square.
During the Indian Premier League (IPL) matches held at the stadium in April-May, there were several low-scoring games, further highlighting the need for wicket improvement. The Uttar Pradesh Cricket Association (UPCA) brought in curator Sanjeev Agarwal from Gwalior to oversee the process of re-laying the wicket, presumably to ensure better playing conditions for the upcoming ODI World Cup matches.
“We conducted a few local matches on Friday and Saturday, and the bounce of the re-laid pitch and the square are perfect,” UPCA’s CEO Ankit Chatterjee stated. “Now the venue has been handed over to ICC (the organisers of the World Cup). So, no further practice matches are possible now,” he added.
A stadium official on condition of anonymity: “Technically, the stadium was taken over by the ICC a month in advance on September 11 as the venue is due to host its first match of the World Cup between Australia and South Africa on October 12, so there was no question of conducting even a practice match on September 15 and 16 as the UPCA bosses say.”
Former chief of the BCCI’s pitches and grounds committee Daljit Singh said: “It’s going to be a risky affair as the pitch manual says that every soil, especially after re-laying, should be tested by conducting practice matches before hosting competitive international games on them.”
The ICC remained hopeful though. “The square has had extensive renovation since the Lucknow Super Giants claimed the stadium as their home venue. The stage will be set for Australia vs South Africa on October 12, where history will be made as the stadium hosts its first-ever World Cup fixture,” it stated on its pitches and grounds review.
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