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Pakistan, Sri Lanka take dig at Test pitch

Pakistan, Sri Lanka take dig at Test pitch

The wicket for the drawn first Test was lifeless.

Karachi: Pakistan and Sri Lanka criticised the lifeless wicket prepared for the drawn first Test here, with captains fearing such tracks will turn five-day cricket dull and make bowlers an endangered species.

"Test cricket gets boring if we play on such wickets," Pakistan captain Younis Khan said on Wednesday after the first Test petered out into a draw with 1,553 runs scored for the loss of just 18 wickets.

"People won't come to the stadiums. Two top spinners from Sri Lanka were playing but they did not trouble us and our bowlers struggled as well, there was little to watch for people," he said.

Barely 1,500 people watched the action on five days of the Test -- Pakistan's first in 14 months as team refused to tour the country over security fears.

Sri Lanka rattled 644-7 with captain Mahela Jayawardene (240) and Thilan Samaraweera (231) setting a fourth wicket world record of 437.

Pakistan also feasted on a flat National Stadium pitch, compiling their highest Test score of 765-6. Younis hit an epic 313 and never looked in trouble during his 768-minute stay at the crease.

Sri Lanka had lost five wickets for 144 in their second innings when the match ended. Younis questioned why such type of a pitch was prepared.

"I think everyone was afraid of defeat. The wicket should be result-oriented so that I can know the strength of the players.

"We have to go to Australia this year. So if you want to see Pakistan's success abroad, then we have to make quality pitches. We have good pitches in domestic matches, so why not in Tests?"

Jayawardene said bowlers would not be factor on such unresponsive pitches. "If you have too many pitches like this in interntional cricket, there won't be any bowlers, they will be like endangered species," said Jayawardene, who steps down as skipper after the second Test in Lahore starting from March 1.

Sri Lankan off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, the highest wicket-taker in Test cricket with 769 before this match, finished with his worst-ever figures of 1-172, while new sensation Ajantha Mendis took 1-157.

When asked if the behaviour of the wicket changed from day to day, Jayawardene said: "It didn't behave at all. See, we always knew that the way the wicket played it would be tough for a result.

"We dominated probably for four days in this Test match and I am quite happy with the result. As a batsman, I don't think I have complaints. I think even our bowlers also wanted to bat on that wicket."

Sri Lankan coach Trevor Bayliss said the Test should have had a better pitch. "It would be bad for Test cricket if you get one of these every time," said Bayliss, an Australian.

Pakistan coach Intikhab Alam lambatsed the pitch after the first day's play, when Sri Lanka put on 406-3.

"We asked for a pitch which has some grass and bounce but unfortunately this is not what we wanted," said Alam.

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ijaz Butt Wednesday said he would investigate how the pitch came to be. "The curator has the final authority," said Alam of PCB's chief curator Agha Zahid, who played one Test for Pakistan in 1970s.

first published:February 26, 2009, 15:50 IST