Babar Azam on Rawalpindi surface: 'Didn't get the wicket we wanted'
Babar Azam opened up on the benign deck used for the Rawalpindi Test against England. The Pakistan skipper made a shocking revelation about the much-criticised track in play, stating while his team's inputs were taken by the curators, the eventual playing surface they got was not the one they wanted.
On the flattest of tracks in memory, Pakistan missed the services of Shaheen Afridi and Yasir Shah and fielded three debutants in their bowling attack on their way to conceding the gigantic 657 off 101 overs in the first innings and then gave away 264/7 in the second essay from less than 36 overs.
They failed to respond to England's ultra-aggressive ways in equal measure, scoring 579 off over 155 overs in the first innings and then folding for 268 all out in the second essay after the tourists' marathon display with the ball.
Outclassed on skill despite the surface, Pakistan, however, may have found it easier to tackle the opposition on a more helpful surface for their inexperienced attack. And Babar Azam said that is exactly what they wanted from the curators in Rawalpindi.
Babar criticise surface used in Rawalpindi Test
"Yes my input was there in the preparation of the pitch and we made it clear what we wanted but we didn’t get that because of the weather or whatever reason. But we wanted a track with some turn for the spinners," Babar said at the post-match press conference.
The track used for the Test match had brought Ramiz Raja led PCB regime under scrutiny with accusations that they wanted a five-day fixture at any cost to keep the broadcasters happy rather than preparing a track that gave more to the bowlers.
Unlike most Test surfaces, the one used in Rawalpindi neither seamed off the deck nor turned sharply at any stage of the Test match. The only cause of difficulty that batters faced arrived in the back half of the Test match where it started keeping low from time to time, an aspect used to good effect by tall pacer Ollie Robinson.
The same track was seen offering the seamers alarming seam movement in domestic first-class cricket recently, something that the home team may not have wanted to be replicated or they left themselves vulnerable to the visiting pacers. But neither did it offer the Pakistani spinner Zahid Mahmood much turn.
Either way, Babar & company need more in it for their bowlers to nullify an England batting unit which will continue to come hard at them over the next two Tests in Multan and Rawalpindi.
"We were expecting they would continue to play like that against us," Babar said. "I think it becomes difficult for a captain when your bowlers are not hitting the right areas and runs are being scored both sides of the wicket. But full credit to them the way they batted in both innings."
"It is never easy to comeback after the opposition scores 500 on the first day but I thought we batted well and came close to their total but in the second innings our batters didn’t live up to the responsibility," he added.