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Pakistan v New Zealand 2022/23

Simon Doull: Does Babar Azam ask for flat pitches to improve his own stats?

Simon Doull: "Does Babar Azam ask for flat pitches to improve his own stats?"
by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Simon Doull lashed out at the quality of the pitches in the ongoing Pakistan v New Zealand Test series, questioning whether Babar Azam wished to improve his stats by requesting batting tracks.

As both sides piled on the runs in their first innings in the second Test match in Karachi, Doull made clear on commentary his feelings on the flatness of the pitches which have characterised Pakistan’s home summer.

Speaking of the difference between the pitches prepared for Test matches and those played on in Pakistan’s domestic season, Doull said: “It comes to a Test match and it’s completely different.”

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In the first match of the series, Pakistan scored 438 in their first innings before New Zealand wracked up 612-9 declared as the game ended in an inevitable draw. Three Pakistan bowlers were hit for over 100 runs in New Zealand’s first innings with Abrar Ahmed conceding 205 for his five wickets. Only one Pakistan wicket fell to pace bowling in the match.

Doull’s comments came as Saud Shakeel and Sarfaraz Ahmed were building a strong partnership in the second Test match in reply to New Zealand’s first innings score of 449. Shakeel was on 70 and Sarfaraz on 55, and the former would go on to make his first Test century later in the day.

“Where does that directive come from?” said Doull, on who requested batting tracks for Test pitches in Pakistan. “Does it come from Babar who wants to bat on a road and improve his own stats? Does it come from above him?” A clip of his comments was shared widely on social media.

Babar averages 60.77 since Pakistan’s first Test match against England in November, having scored two centuries and three fifties. In the series against England which preceded New Zealand’s arrival, records tumbled as England scored four centuries on day one of the series in what became the highest-scoring five day Test ever in Rawalpindi.

Pakistan Test pitches have accrued a reputation for their batting-friendly nature since Test cricket returned to the country, with little in the surfaces for seamers.

While Doull’s comments were thinly veiled with sarcasm, as the second Test against New Zealand heads towards its finish Pakistan are facing a five-match losing streak at home.

Listen to Doull’s comments below:

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