Pakistan v Sri Lanka, 1st Test, Karachi, 2nd day February 22, 2009

Pakistan coach fumes at unhelpful pitch

Cricinfo staff

Umar Gul bent his back, but did not meet with much success in Sri Lanka's first innings in Karachi © AFP

A docile pitch at the National Stadium in Karachi helped turn Pakistan's first two days of Test cricket in 14 months into an ordeal. It hardly offered any assistance to their pace attack, and Pakistan coach Intikhab Alam said that the track, on which Sri Lanka amassed 644 for 7 declared, was not what the home team had expected.

"I am not very happy with the state of the wicket," Alam said even while admitting the team had performed poorly on the opening day. "I will be very honest with you that we [Pakistan] were not expecting such a wicket. We needed a wicket which had grass and some bounce because we rely on our fast bowlers. The curator was told that we needed such a wicket but unfortunately it was not made."

Alam declined to comment on whether the curator, former Test player Agha Zahid, should be sacked, but said the use of the centre square for domestic games would have hampered preparations. "I'm sure some discussion will be held on this and what should be done for the future. Wherever you go in the world they don't touch the centre wicket - it's especially reserved for Test matches. They play on the side wickets, but here the problem is that the sponsor wants to play on the centre wicket because they want to televise the [domestic] matches."

Pakistan leaked 406 runs on the first day, and Alam admitted the team had erred by not plugging the third-man region, an area where Mahela Jayawardene and Thilan Samaraweera scored easy runs. "After every day's play we discuss the performance and yesterday we analysed that we should not have given them free runs," he said. "We positioned a third man from the start of the second day and also a sweeper to make sure that they do not score quickly." Alam said the matter had been discussed with captain Younis Khan, whose positive approach did not pay off on the opening day.

With both Muttiah Muralitharan and Ajantha Mendis posing a threat to the batsmen during their short spells on Sunday, Pakistan face a tough challenge to match Sri Lanka's total. "Pressure is always there on a professional player," Alam said. "Our strategy is that a batsman who walks in should stay at the wicket and with right shot selection, big partnerships can be forged," he said. "I don't see anything unusual in the wicket."

Pakistan's lone specialist spinner, Danish Kaneria, was largely inconsistent, and conceded 170 runs off 46.2 overs for his three wickets. It was the 33rd time he had given over a 100 runs in an innings - this being his 94th innings. "I did talk to him and if you see his performance today, his line was much better," Alam said. "He was playing after a long time [it was Kaneria's first international game since December 2007].

"I was not very happy or satisfied with our bowling attack. We bowled either too full or too short. The wicket was a type on which we should have bowled a bit short of a length. Today the bowlers' line and length was very good and at one stage they had scored 19 runs in the first 15 overs. The idea was to frustrate them and not let them score quickly."

The worst of the bowlers, though, was debutant Sohail Khan, who was taken for 131 off 21 overs: an economy-rate of 6.23. Sohail was picked ahead of 20-year-old Mohammad Talha, who had impressed in recent domestic games. "Our consensus was that he had more experience than Talha and had been playing domestic cricket for quite sometime," Alam said. "He had taken a good number of wickets in domestic cricket at these very same venues. Unfortunately two catches were dropped off his bowling but it's a part of the game."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • D on February 23, 2009, 6:05 GMT

    @u0jh Actually Pakistan lost their last series in India. And I am sure South Africa, and even India will be surprised at your claims of SL being no.1 let alone Australia. Murali-Mendis are certainly the best spin combination, but Fernando, Malinga (who is not test match fit yet), and Vaas who is playing this game; compared to Zaheer/Ishant, Steyn/Ntini/Morkels, Johnson/Lee/Clark (when fit) and even Flintoff and crew. Surely the latter are more proven, and easily better in combination. Its a flimsy excuse that SL is best side in the world (they are only a contender atm, outside top 3 which are clear), and hence the reason for them battering Pakistan doesn't hold any ground. True reasons have been well discussed in other comments.

  • Jawwad on February 23, 2009, 5:47 GMT

    Is day 2 really the day for Mr Alam to be running to the press with his complaints about the curator?

  • Faisal on February 23, 2009, 4:38 GMT

    Changing captain is a huge change by itself, Pakistan should not have included 5 uncapped players after such a change. I disagree that Pakistan is a spent force. They have plenty of talent available for back up. Pakistan team is not dependent on any particular players as there are many players in domestic teams waiting to get their chance and prove themselves worthy replacements.

  • susanta kumar on February 23, 2009, 1:30 GMT

    To be fair ,because of fearing of lose in home soil,they made this type of pitch,and hoped for winning the toss and bat first.But the tactic have backfired. But going to a match with only three specialist bowler with one of them out of form and one is just coming to term with international cricket is ridiculous.How on earth they thought about taking 20 wickets by this bowling attack ????

  • wakas on February 23, 2009, 1:05 GMT

    Those days are gone when Pakistan used to be a threat now whats happening their is no one in the team who lead with authority like the Imrans, Wasims, Waqars, Inzi's. What they demanded they got. No authourity in selecting the team, the captain should pick the 11 with the coach just like Imran Khan used to. I say we bring back Inzi for a year or so just to sort things out in the team. Were has Yasir Hammed gone? Better of watching past matches 1986 sharjh, world cup 1992 etc. Best 11 for the future Pakistan has got, with these player if in good form can become with unity a good team. Salman Butt, Yasir Hameed or Khuramm Manzoor, Younis Khan, Mohammed Yousaf, Misbah Ul Haq Shoaib Malik, Abdur Razzaq, Kamran Akmal, Shoaib Akhter, Mohammed Asif, Danish Kaneria

  • Hamid on February 23, 2009, 1:04 GMT

    Agree with some of the other comments people have. Our team does not have the quality, and playing the blame game is easy. The problem is the PCB. Not any single person, but the entire set up is flawed; and unless some changes take place where our domestic cricket is improved and selection is based on merit and consistency, we cannot expect to be competitive in int'l cricket.

  • Patrick on February 22, 2009, 23:35 GMT

    Who cares whether Pakistan havent played test cricket in 14 months. Do you think England, Australia, India or South Africa could have got away with saying that. Secondly i personally dont think the home team should have the right to choose what style of pitch to prepare. It should be prepared as they normally do and whatever happens, happens. Congratulations to Sri Lanka is in order especially Maheila Jayawardene for an outstanding innings

  • Jamal on February 22, 2009, 22:58 GMT

    No Pakistan are not a spent force. A certain Mohammad Asif is waiting in the wings who by himself won the last test series against SL and Indians. Together with ring rust and excellent bowlers not yet picked, including Aamer, Talha, Ajmal plus batsmen of the Jamshed ilk, Pakistan's talent machine is alive and well. Within 3-6 months these players will break into the team and then it will be back to the pace and swing of two W's and batting Test match winners.

    Having said that Sri Lanka, quite frankly are best test team in the world at the moment, with Malinga back, Fernando Murali, Mendis they have express pace, swing and mystery spin- best attack in the world to be frank.

  • intoxicated on February 22, 2009, 22:50 GMT

    Ive been watching this for the last 15 years my self, when the management asks for a different pitch and the one prepared is totally different.Infact the major reason for such a bad home record for Pakstan is that they could never prepare pitches suitable to their strength. Let us realise that Agha Zahid who has been the chief curator for several years now, doesnt actually know how to prepare a totally fast and bouncy or even a spin supported track. I remember the recent sereies against South Africs they wanted to have a spinning track prepared and the end product was again a batting track on which South Africs pilled runs. On the other hand Yunous khan may be a seasoned player now but still he is a reletively new captain. The first innings showed his lack of experience when he over attacked at times and experimented a bit too much. I hope for Pakistan's sake that he learns the art of captaincy quickly.

  • Arsalan on February 22, 2009, 22:18 GMT

    I Agree with the Nipun. Pakistan Lacks Quality in terms of batting and bowling! Since the 2003 World Cup.. Its less than a Mediocre team specially in terms of bowling. Today when Chaminda Vaas and Dilhara Fernando Bowled on the same pitch, it looked completely different and Pakistani's were made to work hard for their runs. I hope a few Young fast bowlers emerge out of nowhere to put Pakistan back on track! Right now its going towards a disaster!

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