The Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) chief curator Agha Zahid might be looking for cover after the National Stadium pitch prepared for the final Test against the West Indies came under fire from all quarters, writes Khalid Hussain.
After two days of play, both batsmen and bowlers were unanimous in declaring that it was an unsporting wicket, completely unsuitable for a Test match.
From Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq to the West Indian opener Daren Ganga, each player who was asked to comment on the pitch was unhappy with it.
Even Pakistani pacer Umar Gul, who had a ball on Tuesday with the wickets of Chris Gayle, Brian Lara and Ramnaresh Sarwan, all in quick succession, was critical of the track. The other day West Indian medium pacer Daren Powell launched a more stinging criticism against the pitch which is low and slow and devoid of any grass.
Inzamam, with obvious reasons to blame the wicket after a forgettable 64-ball innings of 18 on the opening day, declared that it was not a befitting track for a Test.
An interesting comment considering the general impression that it was the Pakistan captain who ordered a spinner-friendly track to make things ideal of his trump card — leg-spinner Danish Kaneria.
Insiders believe there were more selfish motives for such a decision because the West Indian bowling attack is pace oriented and an out-of-form Inzamam was not ready to face it on a lively track in current form.
Whatever the reasons, the curators came out with a controversial pitch, to say the least. Just days before the start of the match, Agha Zahid, a former Test cricketer, had told this correspondent that weather conditions in Karachi were ideal to prepare any kind of track.
At that time, there was grass on it and he believed that if asked, he could even deliver a pitch perfect for the pacers. But the smart money was still on a slow, spinner friendly track, especially after the grass was shaved as soon as the Pakistan team reached Karachi from Multan, the venue of the drawn second Test.
On the first two days, the bounce was uneven, generally low and experts now agree that the pitch is going to deteriorate a lot in the coming days.
Already it has been described as “the worst pitch I have seen” by Gayle, who made the comment before scoring an entertaining 40 on the second day with the help of six fours.
His opening partner Ganga called it a docile, unsporting track. Ganga, too, made an unbeaten 77.
Of all the players who have so far officially criticised the wicket, only Inzamam has under-achieved in this Test.
To be fair, it may not have been an ideal Test pitch but it is also far from being the worst. A total of 16 wickets have fell and almost 500 runs scored on the first two days and a result in this Test seems almost certain.
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Post InfoThis entry was posted on Wednesday, November 29th, 2006 and is filed under General.
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