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    January 27, 2006

    Doctor sahib, is it dead or alive?

    One day and a bit before the final test, all focus is once again on the pitch. Dawn ran three full lentgh stories on it today, plus this cartoon, which looks way more hillarious in print.

    Such was the nature of the criticism directed towards the surfaces in Lahare and Faislabad that the PCB were forced to release a special statement defending both the groundsmen and the team managment, and contininuing to blame the weather instead.

    This didn't get any approval from The News correspondent Waheed Khan, who dismissed suggestions of the weather having an overbearing role by sighting the exmplaes of recent domestic matches, pitches for which where prepared in, if anything, far worse conditions for Cricket then we have seen since India's arrival, but yet most of them produced results:
    Clearly, somewhere down the line someone has messed up badly because even if one accepts the weather was bad even then too producing two such tracks was unacceptable as does the weather have to do with the shaving off the grass from the pitch on the eve of the game? If the PCB is today facing flak for the first two Test pitches it is so because at the end of the day it is the Board administration which is responsible for everything while the curators, team management, and everything else come second. And if this not the case then they should be honest and open about it, not hide behind excuses.
    Over in The Daily Times columnist retired Col. Rafi Nasim sympathised with the PCB, became the first person to call the test 'exciting' and wondered what all the fuss is about anyway...

    This is not the only occasion that the Test matches ended in a draw. The fact remains that nearly fifty percent Test matches end up in a ‘draw’ on batting pitches that exist everywhere. On such tracks only a miracle can bring the result – and the miracles do not occur too often. Some specialists of the game have blamed the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for intentionally preparing such strips to avoid defeat. My views are different. It happened either by chance or as a result of the inclement weather. As for the fear of defeat, let me say that the Pakistan team was in high spirits after a chain of glorious victories in the recent past. It had emerged as a strong and well-balanced outfit to face India, whom it defeated on its home grounds only last year.

    Though India’s batting has always been outstanding, our own follies did contribute to the big total. Pakistan’s fielding was poor. While important catches were dropped, the hits to the boundary went pass easily. The pitch did have the high bounce as well as the spin. We failed to get the Indians out cheaply because our speedsters targeted the batsmen more than the stumps. On one occasion the computer showed only one ball in the over directed towards the stumps while the remaining five went haywire. The Lahore and the Faisalabad Test having drawn on account of the pitches or the bowlers’ failure to penetrate could not be called ‘dull and dreary draws’ because the spectators thoroughly enjoyed the enterprising batsmanship of players from both sides. The storm of fours and sixes that engulfed the stadia on all the ten days was pretty exciting.

    Amazing, isn't how these army officers of our countries, retired or otherwise, derive such great "excitement" from things no one else in the country can find enjoyable, I'd like to know what Mr. Rafi Nasim's thoughts on the pitch are after he's bowled 25 overs on it against an identical Indian batting line up.

    Moving over to the Karachi pitch, Dawn's senior sports correspondent Khalid H. Hasan took a closer look at it on Thursday, lauding the NSK head curator Ahsan Arain in advance for a pitch which contained "at least half-an-inch of live grass". Reuters agreed, adding that the "hard and green" pitch "should break the high-scoring deadlock".

    Away from the pitch, there is some confusion over the fitness of Shoaib Akhtar. The News and some other local as well as international news agencies have reported that Shoaib Akhtar is "struggling" to be fully fit, but this disputes Bobby Woolmer's remarks in Dawn which downplayed Shoaib's ankle injury, and the view in The Nation (and in other places, again, local as well as international) that confirms that Shoaib will definetely play.

    The News also carried a report about the press release by Inspector General Police (IGP) Sindh Jahangir Mirza which stated that it had taken all security measures neccessary, including deploying of commandos of elite force, regular police and other security personell at the stadium and the Pearl Continental Hotel where the teams stay, and setting up of hidden cameras, an aerial surveillance system and central control at the stadium, giving a whole new meaning to the word "neccessary".

    I know people have different takes on this issue, but I'm not exactly what one can describe as a fan of this whole increased security drama, or whatever you preffer to call it. Given the way how bat has dominated ball in this series so far, you have to feel, if the pitch doesn't live up to it's billing this time, the only people asking for 'increased security measures' will be the bowlers.
    Cross posted on Sundries

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    Thus spake Zainub Razvi @ 11:32 PM |
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