The Rawalpindi pitch, where England racked up a record score of 506 on the opening day of the Test series against Pakistan on Thursday, has come under scrutiny with Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) facing immense criticism for preparing an unresponsive surface. As many as four batters scored their respective tons as England finished with a monumental score of 675 runs in the first innings. PCB chief Ramiz Raja eventually broke his silence on the matter, calling it an “embarrassment” but former Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi ridiculed him for sounding perplexed on the matter pertaining to preparation of Test match pitches.
Speaking to BBC Test Match Special on Friday, Ramiz admitted saying, “I have really not cracked the code regarding a Test match pitch, unfortunately. Absolutely (disappointed with this pitch). The reason why I’m stressing on drop-in pitches in Pakistan is because you’ll go to Multan and Karachi, and you’ll get a similar flavor. We don’t get bounce, it’s to do with clay, how we prepare a pitch – I don’t know what’s happening.”
Afridi was left “shocked” hearing Ramiz’s comment on the track as he lambasted the chairman for trying to tinker with the usual Rawalpindi track which as over the year been a favourite venue for fast bowlers.
“The way Ramiz was speaking…I mean I was shocked to listen him saying that we cannot make tracks like these. International matches have been going on in Pakistan for such a long time but then we say stuff like these. Ramiz said that he wanted a turning track I feel in this weather it would have been something big. Rawalpindi track has always been for the fast bowlers with seam and bounce. Why did they even change it? We now fear losing this Test and we want to win but don’t know the technique,” he told Samaa TV.
A year back, when South Africa had played a Test match at the same venue against Pakistan, it had turned out to be a thriller of a contest across five days with scores in each innings being between 200 and 300. In fact, Pakistan pacers picked 18 of the 20 wickets in their seven-wicket victory.
“If we are talking about the Rawalpindi pitch, I have never seen a track like this. I have a lot of domestic games as well there, but I have never seen a pitch like this which is so flat. It reminded me of Faisalbad or Sialkot track. The four big venues – Multan, Karachi, Lahore and Rawalpindi – I have seen fast bowlers enjoy those tracks because of the bounce. In fact, there was a time when we used to see a lot many fast bowlers coming from Rawalpindi,” Afridi added.