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News

Ramiz Raja: Rawalpindi draw 'wasn't a good advertisement for Test cricket'

The PCB chairman, however, more or less confirmed that the pitch had been prepared to nullify Australia's fast-bowling strength

Nathan Lyon is congratulated after breaking the big opening stand, Pakistan vs Australia, 1st Test, Rawalpindi, 1st day, March 4, 2022

Australia's bowlers bowled 239 overs in Rawalpindi and took just four wickets  •  AFP/Getty Images

Ramiz Raja, the PCB chairman, has conceded that the drawn Rawalpindi Test was not a good advertisement for Test cricket. He reiterated the claim he made when he first took over the post that Pakistan needed a complete overhaul of its pitches, but said the process could only begin after the end of the 2021-22 season.
"A drawn match is never a good advertisement for Test cricket, and I totally understand that we need to get a result in five days these days, and we get it 90% [of the time], but I want to remind you of 2-3 things," Ramiz said in a video posted on PCB's official Twitter feed. "First of all, a number of headlines were in relation to the comments I made when I took over [as chairman] that pitches in Pakistan need to be redone, massively redone, but I took over in September and the season had already begun.
"It takes 5-6 months to prepare pitches, and during the off-season, you will see - soil is coming from Australia; we've experimented, consulted soil experts and prepared soils, and we will redo 50-60 pitches all over Pakistan once our season ends in March-April."
While saying this, however, Ramiz more or less confirmed the suspicion that the Rawalpindi pitch - on which only 14 wickets fell over five days - had been prepared to nullify Australia's fast-bowling strength as well as cover for Pakistan's weakened resources, with fast bowlers Hasan Ali and Faheem Ashraf, the opener Abid Ali, and the legspinner Yasir Shah all out injured.
"I understand the frustration of the fans - undoubtedly it would have been very good if we had a result, but this is a three-Test series, and we need to understand that a lot of cricket still remains to be played. Just for the heck of it, we can't prepare a fast pitch or a bouncy pitch and put the game in Australia's lap.
"It's important that when we play at home, we play to our strengths. We also had limited resources, unfortunately. Our opening-ball pair was disturbed because Hasan Ali and Ashraf were both unfit. Similarly we had a brand-new opening pair - Abdullah Shafique had only played 2-3 matches, and we were keeping a worrisome eye on his form, and whether he could handle such a good bowling attack or not. Imam-ul-Haq was also making a comeback.
"So when your opening batting pair and bowling pair are both disturbed and raw, you can't take chances. Our legspinner wasn't ready, Yasir Shah was unfit, so we got on the field with an under-resourced 15, and Australia, don't forget, are a global powerhouse, and were coming here after winning the Ashes. We respect their talent. So we couldn't go into experimental mode so early, keeping our strengths in mind.
"I understand that we have gained a lot of confidence from this performance. The batting has sparkled, and on the bowling front, a spinner [Nauman Ali] has taken six wickets. So these are bright points."
Ramiz hoped for more exciting cricket in the second and third Tests, but suggested that pitches with low bounce would remain the template for the rest of the series.
"Fans should understand that we will make every effort to have a result-oriented series, but you can't wave a magic wand and get green pitches or result-oriented pitches. We need to beat Australia, and we need to prepare our strategy accordingly, and the strategy is for low-bouncy tracks where reverse can happen, where lbw and bowled will be in play, where our spinners can show their performance, and where the batters, who have grown up on low-bounce pitches, can utilize that advantage.
"I want to say again that it wasn't a good advertisement, but keep your morale high and keep watching. It's a big achievement to have brought so many great Australian players here, and on an individual level there's a lot to look forward to, from both the Pakistan team and the Australian team. I hope that this series, going forward, will become more interesting, but only one match is done, so don't jump the gun, there's a lot of cricket to be played."