PCB chairman defends preparing lifeless pitch to thwart Australia

Ramiz Raja says preparing a lifeless pitch was necessary to nullify Australia’s bowling attack while protecting Pakistan.

Ramiz Raja says Pakistan would continue to prepare low-bouncing pitches that fit its spinners and batters for the rest of the series.   -  REUTERS

Pakistan's cricket boss has hit back at criticism of the lifeless Rawalpindi pitch that produced a dull draw in the first Test against Australia, saying it was necessary to nullify the tourists’ attack while protecting the under-strength host.

Only 14 wickets fell in the series-opener, sparking condemnation from fans and media.

Pakistan board (PCB) chairman Ramiz Raja said in a video posted on the PCB's social media that a draw was “never a good advertisement for Test cricket” but the host was focused on winning the three-match series.

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“I understand the frustration of the fans - undoubtedly it would have been very good if we had a result, but this is a three-Test series, and we need to understand that a lot of cricket still remains to be played,” he said.

“Just for the heck of it, we can't prepare a fast pitch or a bouncy pitch and put the game in Australia's lap.”

Slew of injuries

While Pakistan was hit by a slew of injuries in the leadup to the match, Raja said the board was also mindful of protecting its “brand new” opening batting combination of Abdullah Shafique and Imam-ul-Haq. Ul-Haq scored back-to-back centuries in the Test, while Shafique made 44 and 136.

 

“So when your opening batting pair and bowling pair are both disturbed and raw, you can't take chances,” he said.

“Australia, don't forget, are a global powerhouse, and were coming here after winning the Ashes. We respect their talent. So we couldn't go into experimental mode so early, keeping our strengths in mind.”

The second Test starts Saturday in Karachi, traditionally a more spin-friendly wicket than Rawalpindi.

Raja said Pakistan would continue to prepare low-bouncing pitches that fit its spinners and batters for the rest of the series and urged fans to keep their “morale high.”

“Only one match is done, so don't jump the gun, there's a lot of cricket to be played,” he said.

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