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Imam, Warner offer differing views on Pindi pitch but hope for result in second Test

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KARACHI: The placid nature of the pitch for the first Test at Rawalpindi hasn’t yet been forgotten despite Pakistan and Australia having arrived here for the second game of the three-match series which begins from Saturday.

The teams underwent practice sessions at the National Stadium on Thursday afternoon, a day after their arrival in the metropolis.

With the sun shining brightly on the well-mowed turf with gentle breeze making the weather perfectly pleasant for cricket, Australian opener David Warner and Pakistan pace bowling spearhead Shaheen Shah Afridi removed the heavy cover from the square prepared for the second Test to study its characteristics.

Reports suggest the surface is one for the spinners to benefit from and, as most involved hoped, that would facilitate a result unlike the wicket in Rawalpindi, which again came under discussion during virtual press conferences held by both teams on Thursday.

While Pakistan opener Imam-ul-Haq was satisfied with his performance of scoring hundreds in both innings at the Pindi Cricket Stadium, his Australian counterpart David Warner suggested he wouldn’t wish to play on a similar surface in Karachi.

“From a batter’s point of view, you can roll the same one as in Rawalpindi and hopefully I don’t get out but that’s not what we want,” Warner said. “From a cricketing point of view, you want something to obviously break up, be something there for the spinners, a little bit more.

“I don’t know what we’re expecting here in Karachi until we see the wicket but I just want a game where you can actually create 20 chances, something that’s going to be exciting and entertaining for the crowd.”

Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ramiz Raja on Wednesday defended the Pindi track, saying the hosts were focused on winning the series rather than giving Australia’s pace attack an edge on a more lively wicket. He said Pakistan would continue to serve up low-bouncing wickets for the rest of the series keeping in mind the team’s strengths.

Warner, however, hoped that the pitch at the National Stadium would offer more than just runs for batters.

“We were pretty much thrown into having some practice on wickets that were turning and in the middle it was quite flat and didn’t offer anything to be honest,” said the left-hander.

“For our point of view the pitch, obviously, was a bit benign, only 14 wickets were taken. But at the end of the day, the curators did the best they could do and we just have to move on from that wicket and see what is produced here in Karachi.”

For Imam, the Rawalpindi surface did have the potential to deliver a result had the 70 odd overs not been lost due to rain and bad light.

“In my opinion the match was really good, we bowled their whole team out while 70 overs weren’t bowled due to rain,” said Imam. “If that did not happen, we might have put them in to bat again.

“The pitch was the same for both teams and we bowled out Australia once too and no one scored a hundred for them.”

The left-hander, who plundered 268 runs over two innings in the first Test, said Pakistan had the right to prepare wickets according to their own strengths.

He echoed Ramiz’s view that the hosts had to go for a placid surface because they had an ‘unsettled’ opening pair and their best bowlers were unavailable.

“No one wishes for a match to end up as a draw and our think tank too was looking forward to a result,” said the 26-year-old. “When we go to Australia, they don’t prepare wickets according to our requirements. We too should stick to our strengths.”

Imam said he looked up to the Pakistan think tank and the coaches to give him feedback over his performance and that he avoid “outside” noise.

“I gauge the quality of my innings through the feedback of my think tank and my captain, they’re the most important people for me.”

Published in Dawn, March 11th, 2022

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