Special Correspondent

Lahore: Haroon Rashid is not willing to blame curator Haji Bashir for producing a docile pitch for the first Allianz Test here.

"You see the weather has been so cold and foggy for a month that the curator would not have been able to see more than four yards down the pitch. The wicket would have been kept covered most of the time, not allowing the grass to grow," said the former hard-hitting Pakistan middle-order batsman of the 70s and 80s in a chat with The Hindu on Monday.

Green-tops

Talk about green-tops and Rashid's response is quick. "I hear a lot of stuff about green wickets, but even in Australia, where you have so many pacemen around, you don't see such wickets. The only wicket in Australia that is quick is Perth and that is not because of the grass, but due to the fact that the surface is hard. Adelaide and Brisbane are good batting tracks and the ball spins from the second day in Sydney and Melbourne."

He maintains that the pitches for the series against England, where Pakistan triumphed 2-0, were similar in nature to the one made for the present match at the Gaddafi Stadium. "I don't quite agree that they were harder, faster wickets. Andrew Flintoff and Steve Harmisson were unable to get lift from short of a good length that they normally do.

Pakistan won the series because the pacemen were able to achieve reverse swing at top speeds and the spinners got the ball to turn from the third day. The pitches were very much the same. It is hard to prepare bouncy pitches in the sub-continent because of the nature of the soil."

Problem area

Rashid believes India has a problem in the pace bowling department. "Both Irfan and Ajit were bowling at around 130 (kmph) and on such wickets, where there is not much seam movement, you need to beat the batsmen in the air with speed."

He also said the Indian bowlers might have encountered difficulty in adjusting to the Kookaburra ball. "The seam in these balls is smaller and lasts lesser than the other balls."

Brave decision

He called Rahul Dravid's decision to open the innings a "brave one.'' And he lauded Virender Sehwag as a "fine, aggressive batsman who always gets runs against Pakistan." Despite a nagging ankle strain, pace spearhead Shoaib Akhtar would continue to lead the Pakistani attack in the series, Rashid said.

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