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Australia vs Pakistan | Rawalpindi pitched “below par”


Australia will be hoping for a much improved ground for the second Test in Karachi this weekend after they were able to claim just four Pakistani wickets in the series-opening draw in Rawalpindi.

“I just want a game where you can actually create 20 chances,” Australia flyhalf David Warner said. “It’s something that’s going to be exciting and entertaining for the crowd.”

There were only 14 wickets taken over the five days, as Pakistan went 476-4 declared and 252 unbeaten, and Australia responded with 449 all-in.

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Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ramiz Raja admitted draws were not good publicity for Test cricket, and Australia vice-captain Steve Smith called the ground at Pindi Stadium “dead”.

The International Cricket Council gave its approval on Thursday. Match referee Ranjan Madugalle described the pitch prepared for Australia’s first Test in Pakistan since 1998 as “below average”.

“The character of the pitch has hardly changed in five days and there has been no deterioration other than the rebound which has diminished slightly,” Madugalle said in a statement released by the ICC.

“The pitch didn’t have much pace and bounce for the setters or help the spinners. In my opinion, this does not represent equal competition between bat and ball. Therefore, in accordance with the guidelines of the ICC, I rate this pitch as below average.”

Raja said Pakistan are planning low-bounce lanes to blunt the Australians and play with Pakistan’s forces in the absence of injured fast bowlers Hasan Ali and Faheem Ashraf and unavailable Haris Rauf, who is self-isolating with COVID -19.

But Warner thought they had gone too far.

“When (Australian spinner Nathan Lyon) was hitting so hard, he wasn’t doing anything, he was just going about slowly to the wicket,” Warner said. “There was no variable bounce, which you usually see on worn wickets.”

Ashraf has recovered from a hamstring injury but was ruled out of the second test from Saturday after testing positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday shortly after teams arrived in this southern port town of Rawalpindi.

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