Saturday Jan 30, 2021
The Pakistan cricket team’s think-tank would want to keep the 1-0 lead intact and might not go for a totally bowlers’ friendly pitch in the second Test against South Africa starting at the Pindi Stadium on February 4.
Former head curator Agha Zahid, who was sidelined a few months back, has been recalled to oversee the pitch preparation for the series as current head curator Ali Raza is ill.
“The second Test pitch will be a sporting one,” a source associated with the preparation of the pitch, said. “Fast bowlers always get some assistance at the Pindi Stadium no matter what type of pitch you prepare.
“But I think it will offer a good platform for batsmen to play long innings. At the same time, quality bowlers can also make the difference.”
Spinners are not considered a threat at the Pindi Stadium, though leggie Mushtaq Ahmad and off-spinner Saqlain Mushtaq were successful in making an impact against solid opposition in the nineties. Waqar Younis (23 wickets in 5 Tests) and Wasim Akram (16 in 5 Tests) lead the table of wicket-takers at the venue.
Mohammad Zahid’s heroics (11-130) against New Zealand in 1996 was one of the brightest performances from a pace bowler at the Pindi Stadium. It was here in February last year that Naseem Shah performed a hat-trick, becoming the youngest ever to achieve the feat.
This time, however, the pitch might not be that suited to pacemen. “The strip we are looking at should be more suited to batsmen. At the same time, we are making sure that from the third day onward spinners come into play more,” the source said.
Pakistan defeated Bangladesh by an innings and 44 runs last year at the venue with both new-ball bowlers, Shaheen Shah Afridi and Naseem Shah, making an impact.