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‘Difficult pitches no excuse for Pakistan batsmen’

LAHORE: Former Pakistan captain Intikhab Alam has strongly criticised the national side for using bowling-friendly pitches as an excuse for their failure with the bat in their Test series whitewash against South Africa.

The former coach said the Pakistan batsman lacked the required technique and preparation to perform on the fast-paced pitches during the course of the three Tests.

“Actually, we were not fully prepared and we were not knowing better about the pitches and playing conditions in South Africa,” Intikhab told Dawn on Monday.

“Our batsmen lack the technique and don’t know how to grip such conditions.”

Intikhab pointed out at the lack of a dynamic batsman in the Pakistan line-up and believed the side does not feature a player who has variety of shots to offer.

“When you have no good hooker, puller or cutter you can’t score runs on these bouncy pitches,” said the former leg-spinner.

Intikhab was also critical of top-order batsmen Fakhar Zaman and Azhar Ali for failing to score big runs in the series and was baffled by the poor numbers recorded by the Pakistan batsmen.

“It is amazing that no Pakistan batsmen could average above 40 in three Test matches and more surprisingly Azhar Ali and Fakhar Zaman remained complete failures with averages below 10,” he said.

However, the former Pakistan manager said he believed pitches favouring the home-side is an unfair advantage and that he has asked the International Cricket Council (ICC) to work on the situation.

“We should not blame the pitches as it is a worldwide practice that the home team prepares it for their own benefits and not for the visitors,” said Intikhab.

“Though the benefit of the pitch to the home team is wrong and I have been asking the ICC for a long time to take the steps to introduce neutral curators to prepare standardised pitches for all cricket matches as the local climate and atmosphere are enough to benefit the host.

“We as hosts in the UAE also prepare pitches for our own benefit, where you can hit strokes on the front foot easily but it is not possible in South Africa.”

Intikhab said losing to South Africa away and New Zealand at home was an alarming situation for Pakistan cricket and whispers of negative atmosphere in the Pakistan dressing room also might be true and the reason for the disastrous failure.

Intikhab also reprehended Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed’s complaints of not getting to play more practice matches ahead of the series.

“The days have gone when the visitors get two or three practice matches as now you have to go on any tour with full preparation at home,” he said.

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