PCB defends scheduling of SL Tests

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KARACHI: The ongoing first Test against visiting Sri Lanka in Rawalpindi was supposed to mark the historic return of Test cricket to Pakistan.

But persistently cold and wet weather has badly hit the first of the two-Test series with just 91.5 overs possible on the first three days of the Test. Only 32 deliveries were bowled on Friday.

The fact that it’s the first Test being played on Pakistani soil since 2009 raises questions as to why the Pakistani cricket authorities failed to properly schedule the Test series.

That’s the reason why the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has come under criticism. However, a PCB spokesman has defended the Board stressing that it tried to make the best out of a bad situation.

“According to the original FTP schedule and if all was well, Sri Lanka should have been here for the white-ball cricket, while they would have completed their red-ball assignment in September/October. However, the matches were swapped to give the SLC a little taste and flavor that Pakistan was safe to play cricket. As such, white-ball matches, which presently have no contest, were held in September/October. The PCB’s strategy worked as Sri Lanka are now here for the WTC Tests,” said the spokesman.

He defended the decision to pick Pindi as one of the venues for the two-match series. “This time of the year, only Karachi and Rawalpindi can stage Tests,” he said. “Lahore is not available due to smog and rains, while Multan and Peshawar are in the upgradation process.

“That left only Karachi as the venue that could have staged full cricket. Back-to-back Tests at the same venue, I am not too sure would have gone down well locally and internationally.

“The PCB strategically awarded this Test to Rawalpindi so that Pakistan doesn’t look like a two-venue country. Please remember Pindi Cricket Stadium is also one of the venues for HBL PSL 2020, whose all 34 matches will be held in Pakistan.

“If Karachi had staged the first Test, it would have been impossible to allow any cricket in Rawalpindi due to extreme weather conditions from mid-December onwards. “The first Test against Sri Lanka couldn’t start before 11 December as the Pakistan cricket team only returned from Australia on 6 December,” he concluded.

Sri Lanka won toss

Sri Lanka 1st Innings

*D Karunaratne lbw b Shaheen 59

O Fernando c Haris b Naseem 40

K Mendis c Rizwan b Shinwari 10

A Mathews c Asad b Naseem 31

D Chandimal b Abbas 2

D de Silva not out 87

†N Dickwella c Babar b Shaheen 33

D Perera not out 6

Extras (b 5, lb 6, nb 3) 14

Total (6 wickets; 91.5 overs) 282

Still to bat: V Fernando, K Rajitha, L Kumara

Fall: 1-96, 2-109, 3-120, 4-127, 5-189, 6-256

Bowling: Abbas 24-9-56-1; Shaheen 22-7-58-2 (nb 3); Shinwari 15-4-54-1; Naseem 24.5-5-83-2; Haris 3-0-12-0; Shan 1-1-0-0; Asad 2-0-8-0

Pakistan: Shan Masood, Abid Ali, *Azhar Ali, Babar Azam, Haris Sohail, Asad Shafiq, †Mohammad Rizwan, Usman Shinwari, Mohammad Abbas, Naseem Shah, Shaheen Shah Afridi

Umpires: Richard Kettleborough and Michael Gough (England). TV umpire: Richard Illingworth (England). Match referee: Andy Pycroft (Zimbabwe)