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Tiny NZ ground in spotlight ahead of T20 final

Cricket

Its suitability as an international venue is an open question but New Zealand coach Mike Hesson has lauded Eden Park ahead of the Twenty20 tri-series final against Australia.

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The postage stamp-sized ground remains the subject of debate after Australia scored 245 in a record run chase to beat the Black Caps by five wickets on Friday night.

International Cricket Council regulations state that boundaries should be at least 59.43 metres from the centre of the pitch.

The straight boundaries at Eden Park – which earned international status before those regulations were introduced – are thought to measure between 45 and 55 metres.

They proved to be a major factor on Friday night with the two sides combining for 32 sixes across 38.5 overs.

But speaking ahead of Wednesday night’s final at the same venue in Auckland, Hesson said the rugby ground had proven its worth as a cricket venue over many years.

“I think you’ve just got to look at history and how many great games of cricket we’ve had at Eden Park,” Hesson said.

“Not all of them have been 244 in a T20. We’ve had that many different games here – a couple of Chappell-Hadlee games here in recent times, obviously the World Cup.

“Every game’s different. It’s a great cricketing venue.”

Australian spinner Ashton Agar earlier described the ground as unlike anything he had experienced in international cricket.

“You just look at how short it is straight – you’re on the ring and you feel like you’re on the fence,” he said.

“It’s a really unique ground and things are going to happen differently here.”

The pitch prepared for last Friday’s game will again be used in the final, potentially giving the spinners a little extra to work with.

But with both sides boasting a wealth of powerful strikers, another runfest appears the most likely outcome.

“You’ve just got to adapt to the conditions,” Hesson said.

“Both bowling line-ups struggled to adapt last time. It didn’t really grip a lot.

“It was an outstanding wicket, and I think Eden Park was always going to (have) that at some stage. But we’ve had some great games there where 170 has been a good score.”

– AAP

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