RAWALPINDI               -             Major flaws and blunders were witnessed on part of Pindi Cricket Stadium curator and management of the Pindi Stadium during the first Test.

First of all, Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) should have thoroughly gone through the pitch condition rather than completely banking on curator Muhammad Ashraf’s recommendations. The interesting fact to note is that Ashraf was posted to Abbottabad Stadium and was recently posted at Pindi Stadium. The pitch where Pakistan-Sri Lanka first Test is being played was last used in the final of the Pakistan Cup between KP and Balochistan way back on April 12. The major flaws were witnessed on the very first day of the Test, as Usman Shinwari’s ball hit the stumps, when Sri Lankan skipper Karunaratne was batting. The ball through hit the stumps, yet the bails were never uprooted. Same happened when pacer Muhammad Abbas clean-bowled Chandimal, only bails were dislodged, but all the three stumps remained intact.

Now a simple question arises in everyone’s mind as why such thing happened. The reason is very simple that when stumps are put into the holes, curators ensured it is properly remained a little bit wet. Some water is given regularly, but Ashraf completely forgot that major aspect, which resulted in wickets were stick to the ground like cemented wall.

Another major thing ignored by the PCB curator was that after such long a gap in playing matches on the particular pitch, the ball was not coming as it should have, which was clearly noticed, as wicketkeeper Rizwan had to grab some deliveries almost at his face and few deliveries were not even at catchable height. Another blunder was committed by the curator that he used old robes at the boundary. The joint was not properly fixed, while rather than using 2.5 inches robe, he opted to use 1.5 inch robe, which could have resulted in boundary turned into six, as the robe was not fixed at the joints.

PCB should hire professional curators to make better pitches. It is hoped that the PCB will take into account the following flaws and ensure no such repeat of things in future, which could result in huge embarrassment for not only Pakistan but also for the Pindi Cricket Stadium, which is hosting a Test match after more than 15 years. The Pindi Stadium is a known crowd-puller and spectators always throng the venue in huge numbers, while few certain circles are also presenting highly childish argument that the PCB should have conducted the first Test in Karachi keeping in mind weather forecast. It is not more than rubbish, as previously weather forecast was clear and no one can fight with nature.

While according to original ICC Future Tour Programme (FTP) schedule, if all was well, Sri Lanka should have been in Pakistan for white-ball cricket, while they would have completed their red-ball assignment in September/October, however, the matches were swapped to give the SLC a little taste and flavour that Pakistan was safe to play cricket. As such, white-ball matches, which presently have no contest, were held in September/October. Credit must be given to the PCB, as their strategy worked as Sri Lanka are in Pakistan for the WTC Tests, one important thing to note is that this time of the year in Pakistan, only Karachi and Rawalpindi can stage Test matches, Lahore is not available due to smog and rains, while Multan and Peshawar venues are in the up-gradation process.

It would have left only Karachi as the venue that could have staged full cricket, but back-to-back Tests at the same venue would have not gone down well locally and internationally. The PCB strategically awarded the first Test to Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium, which is also one of the venues for HBL PSL 2020, as its entire 34 matches will be played in Pakistan.