India in Pakistan 2005-06 January 21, 2006

Imran Khan joins pitch debate

Cricinfo staff



'It is a legitimate home advantage' - Imran © Getty Images

Even as the second Test at Faisalabad got underway, the debate over the pitch at Lahore, where 1089 runs were scored for just 8 wickets, continued to simmer.

Imran Khan, former Pakistan captain, wrote in his column in The Hindu: "During my 21 years of international cricket, I have seen almost every team prepare pitches that suit it at home - it is a legitimate home advantage that has been used right from the inception of the game. Hearing the comments of the coach [Bob Woolmer] I am increasingly convinced that the grass on the Lahore track was shaved off in order to make it placid and risk-free."

Imran added that Woolmer can be forgiven for his contention that the home team has no right to intervene and ask for a pitch that suits its strengths due to the latter's limited exposure as a player in international cricket. He also criticized the Pakistan coach's defensive attitude, saying that he should focus more on his team getting 20 wickets and win matches.

Woolmer, however, in his own column in the Indian Express wrote: "For the record, I reiterate that as captain and coach, Inzamam and I will let the pitch committee know what type of pitches we would like, but we then leave it to the groundstaff."

Talking about Pakistan's evolution as a world-beater, Imran added that he would like to see Woolmer work on finding a suitable specialist opening partner for Salman Butt, if they are to do well in England later this year.

On India's own dilemmas, the former fast bowler felt that Rahul Dravid shouldn't open the innings, his 410-run partnership with Virender Sehwag notwithstanding. He wrote, "The No. 3 slot is a crucial one and Dravid is a vital cog in the Indian batting line-up. Losing him early could be disastrous for the Indians."