Afghanistan's Mujeeb Ur Rahman was fortunate to avoid injury on sandy outfield at HPCA Stadium, but ICC insist they are "comfortable" with conditions; watch every World Cup match live on Sky Sports; England next in action vs Bangladesh on Tuesday (6am start)
Sunday 8 October 2023 21:28, UK
Ben Stokes is unlikely to be risked for England's Cricket World Cup clash with Bangladesh on Tuesday, as concerns increase over the safety of the Dharmashala playing surface.
Afghanistan head coach Jonathan Trott criticised the state of the HPCA Stadium following his side's match with Bangladesh on Saturday, insisting that the loose, sandy outfield posed an injury risk to his players.
The former England batter said that players were "unsure" of their footing and that Afghanistan's Mujeeb Ur Rahman had been lucky to avoid serious injury after his knee jarred in the turf as he slid to prevent a boundary.
It is understood Trott has been in touch with friends in the England camp to share his thoughts in more detail and they received a close-up look of their own during a training session on Sunday.
The ICC and the match referee have confirmed they are "comfortable" with the conditions, but the uncertainty underfoot makes it virtually inconceivable that Stokes will be risked.
He missed England's opening match - a heavy defeat to New Zealand - with a left hip problem and is being assessed on a day-by-day basis.
He returned to the nets for the first time in 10 days on Sunday, batting against throwdowns and sidearms from fielding coach Carl Hopkinson for around half-an-hour but looked in discomfort at times.
He later emerged for some light running drills, jogging gently for another five minutes, but appeared some way from match readiness.
Batter Jonny Bairstow said England had discussed the risks posed by the playing surface and suggested they may need to exert some caution in the field to avoid trouble.
"There's been a lot of chat about it hasn't there? Touch wood we don't have any major incidents," he said.
"The last thing you want is two guys going off with knee injuries or something. It can contribute to shoulders as well, if you're diving and your elbows get stuck in the ground. But it's like the pitch being different one venue to another, you've just got to adapt to it.
"When you're out there fielding with spikes on it will naturally become clear what you can and can't do. It might just be a case of boxing a bit clever with how you go about it.
"People need to make sure you do everything possible to make sure those areas - calves, Achilles - are loose and are able to cope with the stresses of a sand-based outfield.
"But I think it's one of those where it will be very difficult to hold someone back if they see a ball and they try to stop it - it's a natural reaction to go for it."
The International Cricket Council's pitch consultant Andy Atkinson and head of events Chris Tetley were also in attendance at Dharmashala on Sunday, seen in conversation with the head groundsman as they assessed conditions.
An ICC spokesperson said: "The process for assessing the condition of the pitch and outfield lies with the match officials under the ICC pitch and outfield monitoring process and the outfield at Dharamshala was rated as average after the Afghanistan v Bangladesh match.
"Additionally, the ICC independent pitch consultant has taken a look at the outfield today and is comfortable with the conditions as is Javagal Srinath, the match referee for the next game."
There are three ratings below the 'average' grade the ground received: below average, poor and unfit.
England may look to add an extra seamer to the XI that was defeated in Ahmedabad, with left-armer Reece Topley pushing for inclusion as a possible alternate for spin-bowling all-rounder Moeen Ali.
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