FAISALABAD: With batsmen from both the Balochistan and Punjab teams struggling to put runs on the board in the opening match of the ongoing Pakistan Cup, Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief curator Agha Zahid believes it was poor shot selection from both teams that led to the low-scoring match rather than the poor quality of the pitches.
Balochistan won by 15 runs after they dismissed Punjab for 203, having earlier set them a modest target of 216, but Zahid insisted that his team had tried their best to create batsman-friendly pitches.
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“The sunny weather of the city helped us create a high-scoring track for the opening match. We did our best and prepared good pitches,” Zahid told The Express Tribune.
He further added that because the Iqbal Stadium does not fall under PCB’s domain, the administrators of the ground were responsible for its maintenance. “We arrived here [Faisalabad] seven days before the opening match. We only had seven days to make a healthy pitch, which had a lot of cracks on it. It was a difficult task but we managed to do it.”
The 63-year-old, who played one Test for Pakistan against West Indies in 1975 and played first-class cricket for almost two decades, brushed aside suggestions from some players that a light shower, which had forced covers onto the pitch, had changed its behaviour.
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“The rain couldn’t have changed the dynamics of the pitch because we covered it as soon as the first drop of rain fell,” said Zahid. “The outfield certainly must have been affected but the pitch was perfectly healthy. A total of 280 should have been reached easily.”
Zahid blamed the batsmen for the poor score. “It [the score] all depends on players of the two teams; how hard they work. The players just came and hit the ball blindly. This, obviously, is not good cricket,” he added.
The players, meanwhile, insisted that the pitch had a major role to play in the low-scoring match. “The ball did move and bounced a bit as well, but, we could feel the pitch was behaving abnormally,” said Balochistan pacer Sohail Tanvir.
He further added: “We were batting really well till our fourth wicket fell with the team on 149-4. After that we were unable to add runs to the total. However, we were able to confine Punjab to a slow start and even they lost wickets early on. The reason was that the pitch became moist which caused a lot of problems for the batsmen.”
Published in The Express Tribune, April 21st, 2016.
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