PCB chief Ramiz Raja has defended the heavily criticised Rawalpindi pitch that was in use for the first Test between Pakistan and Australia, stating that it was a strategy for the “under-sourced” home team, who were without several key players.
Australia’s historic tour of Pakistan started with a drab draw. Only 14 wickets fell across five days in the first Test, with the game ending with an unbroken, 252-run stand between Pakistan’s openers. With the pitch under scrutiny, and in danger of getting a “poor” rating by the ICC because of the lack of any support for the bowlers, Ramiz has clarified that preparing the flat wicket was a ploy with the home side lacking a number of first-choice players due to injury.
In a video that was uploaded by the PCB on their Twitter account, Ramiz says that though a draw is “never a good advertisement for Test cricket”, it was necessary for Pakistan to play to their strengths when playing at home.
— Pakistan Cricket (@TheRealPCB) March 9, 2022
“A drawn Test match is never good advertising for Test cricket, and I totally understand because in five days there should be a result nowadays, and that is the case 90 percent of the time,” he said. “I do get the frustration of the fans, and if there had been a result, it would have been great, but this is a three-Test match series. You have to think about and understand that a lot of cricket is left [in the series] and that, just for the heck of it, we can’t have a fast pitch or a bouncy pitch and play into the laps of the Australian team. It is necessary that when we play at home, we have to play according to our strengths, but we had limited resources, unfortunately.
“Our opening bowling pair was disturbed as Hasan Ali and Faheem [Ashraf] were both unfit. We had a brand new opening bowling pair and Abdullah Shafique had played only two-three games, and there was worrisome scrutiny over his form, and whether he would be able to do well against such a fearsome bowling attack. Imam-ul-Haq was returning, so when your opening bowling and batting pair was disturbed and raw, then you take chances accordingly. You don’t have a leg-spinner ready. Yasir Shah is unfit, so, we took the field with an under-sourced 15, and let’s not forget Australia is the world’s powerhouse, they recently won the Ashes, and we respect their talent, and we didn’t want to go into an experimental mode so soon considering our strengths in front of us.”
He also added that going forward in the series, the hosts will look to prepare tracks with low bounce, which could prove to be an advantage for them.
“I still think, Pakistan would have got a lot of confidence after this performance, especially the batting, which shone. In the bowling department, a spinner got six wickets, and these are bright points. But fans have to understand that we will try our best to see it’s a result-oriented series, but pitches aren’t like magic wands where we wave the stick and the pitch becomes result-oriented.
“We have to defeat Australia and make our strategies carefully. And the strategy that’s made is that there are low, bouncy tracks where the ball reverses, and the leg before and bowled decisions are in play, where our spinners can show off their skills. Instead of batting against high bounce, they should be up against low bounce, which is our habit and could prove to be our advantage. So, I repeat again, that the advertisement was not good but a lot of the series is left.”