x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Misbah disappointed with ‘such flat tracks’

Pakistan captain not happy pitch had little to offer off-spinner Saeed Ajmal, writes Paul Radley.

Misbah-ul-Haq's Pakistan were considered unbeatable in Dubai. Satish Kumar / The National
Misbah-ul-Haq's Pakistan were considered unbeatable in Dubai. Satish Kumar / The National

DUBAI // At the start of this winter, Dubai International Cricket Stadium was seen as Fortress Pakistan. Even the world’s No 1 Test side, South Africa, arrived here regarding it as something of a final frontier.

Four months and two Test match defeats later, Misbah-ul-Haq and his Pakistan side have fallen out of love with the place.

Their home away from home is just not homely enough any more. Having won three of the four matches staged here before October, they have lost both since.

Sri Lanka’s pace bowlers were the decisive factor in victory here and Misbah bemoaned the fact the conditions did not do enough to favour his side’s leading spinner, Saeed Ajmal.

“The Pakistan Cricket Board is not preparing pitches, obviously groundsmen are preparing pitches,” Misbah said after the nine-wicket loss to Sri Lanka on Sunday.

“As far as satisfaction, it is not there because we have not given instruction of such flat tracks.”

While Pakistan’s national team remain in exile from their homeland, the PCB sends its own groundsmen over to oversee the final preparation of the wickets for matches played in the UAE.

“Maybe the groundsmen want to make another kind of pitch but they are not able to do that,” Misbah said. “It is surprising that there is no break here on the pitch. Normally the pitches here help spin on the second or third day, but even on the fifth day the pitch did spin and it’s surprising.

“We are disappointed. Obviously, we are not getting support as per our strength and that is a worry for us.”

Sri Lanka’s bowlers made good use of the first morning moisture in the pitch to fire out Pakistan cheaply in their first innings and the hosts never recovered.

“Apart from the first day, this was a regular Dubai wicket,” said Angelo Mathews, Sri Lanka’s captain. “The spinners weren’t able to be that successful on this wicket because it was very helpful for the fast bowlers on the first day. “After that it became a bit slow, but still good for the batsmen, as usual.”

Mathews said he believes Mahela Jayawardene, his predecessor as captain and a centurion here, will be fit to play the final Test in Sharjah, which begins this week.

Jayawardene had stitches inserted in his left hand after he split the webbing on the opening day of the Test.