December 8, 2023
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The pitch at the Pindi Cricket Stadium in Rawalpindi, which played host to the first Test between England and Pakistan earlier in the month, has been rated ‘below average’ by ICC match referee Andy Pycroft.

This marks the second consecutive instance that the venue has received a below-average rating. The pitch etched out a high-scoring draw between Australia and Pakistan as well, in March 2022.

The ICC rules state that should a venue accumulate five demerit points across a five-year rolling period, it will be handed a one-year suspension from hosting an international fixture.

The Pindi Cricket Stadium in Rawalpindi is hence in a perilous state and will inflict a year-long ban if it receives another negative rating.

Emirates ICC Elite Panel of Match Referees member Andy Pycroft defended his assessment of the surface by stating:

“It was a very flat pitch which gave almost no assistance to any type of bowler. That was the main reason why batters scored very fast and both sides posted huge totals.”

He continued:

“The pitch hardly deteriorated during the course of the match. Since there was very little in it for the bowlers, I found the pitch to be ‘below average’ as per the ICC guidelines.”

The recently conducted series opener between England and Pakistan saw an absolute run fest. An astonishing 1768 runs were amassed over the course of five days of action. The Ben Stokes-led side scripted history by scoring 506 runs on the first day of the Test, creating a new record.

Bowlers had to toil hard in Rawalpindi but found no avail as the pitch did not sport any lateral movement or turn. The visitors were able to etch out a win on the back of a bold declaration, giving the bowlers ample time to claim 10 wickets and take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.

“It is embarrassing for us” – Ramiz Raja on the Rawalpindi pitch

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ramiz Raja labeled the Rawalpindi pitch as embarrassing, midway through the first Test, which the hosts eventually went on to lose by 74 runs.

Rawalpindi pitch again receives “below average” rating and has been given another demerit point from ICC. The venue now has 2 demerit points (one from the Australia series). If it reaches 5 points, the ground will be banned to host international cricket for 12 months.

Sharing his opinion on the pitch that was on offer for the first Test in Rawalpindi, Raja said:

“It is embarrassing for us, especially when you have a cricketer as chairman. This is not a good advert for cricket. We’re a better cricketing nation than this”.

He continued:

“Ultimately, the only situation is a drop-in pitch. Which is extremely expensive if we’re bringing it from abroad. Instead, we’re developing soil here for drop-in pitches. That way, we can prepare square turners or bouncy wickets depending on what we want.”

Despite a much sportier surface on offer in Multan for the second Test, Babar Azam and Co. could not make the most of it as they succumbed to their third consecutive Test loss at home. England have attained an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series.

How should Pakistan combat its pitch issues? Let us know what you think.

Also Read: Shakib Al Hasan sent to hospital due to stiffness ahead of 1st Test against India – Reports

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