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February 25, 2009
Wasim Akram, the former Pakistan captain, has said he was perplexed by the docile pitch prepared at the National Stadium for the first Test between Pakistan and Sri Lanka in Karachi. Four 150-plus scores - including a triple-century and two double-tons - were raked up in Pakistan's first home Test in 16 months, and Akram said sparse crowds for five-day games in the country would only improve if the pitches were more bowler-friendly.
"It's a mystery to me why after 14 months of [not playing] Test cricket, such type of a wicket was made," Akram said. "We don't have to play the blame game but have to look what type of wicket should be prepared for the next Test."
Pakistan captain Younis Khan and coach Intikhab Alam had expressed their dissatisfaction about the pitch, and Akram felt the home captain should be consulted. "I think the captain's involvement should be there in the preparation of the wicket. When I was the captain, Imran [Khan] was the captain, Javed bhai [Miandad], Inzamam [ul-Haq], we made sure what type of wicket we should have and we got that. So I think there was some communication problem there. But I hope not such type of wicket is made in future. We want teams to come to Pakistan and people of Pakistan should support their team but with such type of wickets it gets a bit difficult."
Sri Lanka raked up 644 for 7 in their first innings, and Pakistan's reply of 765 for 6 was powered by Younis' triple-century, the first by a Pakistan captain. "I think technically it was a superb knock. For any batsman who scores 300, it doesn't matter what type of wicket or against which opposition. It is a big achievement and against the likes of Murali [Muttiah Muralitharan] and [Ajantha] Mendis, who are experienced spinners. Murali is one of the best ever and to bat against him for two-and-a-half days shows that Younis is a great player and he has got the ability to lead from the front."
Akram was hoping Younis can provide the much-needed stability to Pakistan's set-up with his leadership. "It could have been better had he agreed to lead one-and-a-half years ago. He is still 31-32, quite fit, the passion is there and he could take Pakistan cricket further. Let's hope for that."
Fast bowler Sohail Khan did not have the best start to his Test career, conceding 164 runs in 27 wicketless overs. "Sohail is playing a Test match so it means he is a Test-level bowler. He has been performing in first-class cricket consistently but I think it was such a dead track and he was an inexperienced bowler. You need experienced bowlers to get wickets. You can try youngsters on slightly supporting wickets. He just needs couple of games to get into rhythm."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Plays of the day from the fifth ODI in Ranchi
Plays of the day from the fourth ODI between India and Sri Lanka in Kolkata