Blackcaps vs India: McLean Park falls short in one-day cricket return

Napier's McLean Park may be back in the international-cricket dogbox, after players were forced from the field during the one-day encounter between New Zealand and India on Wednesday night.

With the tourists chasing a mere 158 to win the opening game of their five-match ODI series, umpires were forced to delay the game - because of too much light.

New Zealand struck immediately after tea, dismissing Indian opener Rohit Sharma with a slips catch, but in the next over, the setting sun shone directly into the eyes of the batsman at one end.

Players were off the field for 30 minutes and when they returned, the match had been shortened by an over.

This isn't the first time the venue has made headlines for the wrong reasons. In 2017, a one-day match between the Blackcaps and Australia was abandoned, when rain left the poorly drained outfield in a dangerous state.

A subsequent ODI against South Africa was transferred to Hamilton that summer and the Napier City Council has spent the past two years trying to bring facilities back up to standard.

This was McLean Park's grand unveiling.

Neither the umpires nor Blackcaps batsman Ross Taylor, who has played regularly at the venue for Central Districts, had encountered the problem before.

Napier Mayor Bill Dalton promised to remedy the situation somehow.

"We were very conscious that this was going to be an issue," he told Sky Sport. "We actually have the largest chief executive in New Zealand local government, so one of our plans was to lie him along the top of the grandstand to block the sun.

"We decided he would get a bit bored up there, so we have other plans and we're working through a plan to solve this problem.

"We're absolutely committed to make this the finest multi-use ground in New Zealand."

But former NZ wicketkeeper and Sky commentator Ian Smith was not impressed.

"It's not good enough," he said.  "In fact, it's appalling.

"You know it's going to happen, but you can't do anything about it? There must be a way to put another level on the stand or a temporary awning or something to block [the sun]."

McLean Park has a chance to redeem itself quickly, when it hosts a one-day encounter between the White Ferns women and India on Thursday.


Join us at 3pm Saturday for live updates of the second Blackcaps vs India ODI in Mt Maunganui.