Thatscricket - ODI Series - India~~s tour of Pakistan- Sporting wickets for Indo-Pak series

Published: Tuesday, March 30, 2004, 0:33 [IST]
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Lahore:Contrary to speculation that Pakistan will conspire to rattle pace-weary Indians on tailor-made wickets, the curator for the forthcoming One-day and Test series has said he has prepared sporting pitches which would give "equal chance to batsmen and bowlers".

Englishman Andy Atkinson, given the task to work on the pitches for the entire series, denied he had any specific instructions to make fast pitches for the high-profile series.

"Although I have talked to the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) officials, there are no specific instructions from anyone. All pitches would definitely be sporting pitches which would give equal chance to batsmen and bowlers," said the 48-year-old Atkinson.

"Pitches should not support just one team, it should have bounce and pace initially, help the batsmen as well and deteriorate to help spinners towards the end," he said.

The former Essex curator is also an advisor on pitches to the International Cricket Council (ICC) and was in Dhaka for the ICC Junior World Cup as a supervisor.

The Indian team will arrive in Pakistan on Wednesday to play five One-day games and three Tests on their 40-day tour that is their first of Pakistan in 15 years. The first of five One-day games is scheduled in Karachi on Saturday.

Pitches in Pakistan have drawn criticism over the time for their slow and dull nature and it was at the insistence of the then captain Rashid Latif, incumbent coach Javed Miandad and other former players that PCB sought Atkinson's help in 2002.

Atkinson was re-hired recently for the series against South Africa and he produced some good pitches in Lahore and Faislabad for the two-match Test series. The hosts beat South Africa 1-0 with express bowler Shoaib Akhtar rocking them in the first Test in Lahore.

Praising the pitch at Faislabad, he said it was the best in Pakistan. "I think the Faislabad pitch is the best," said the curator but refused to say why no match was scheduled in Faislabad.

"The pitch in Rawalpindi is also very good and the one at Multan is lighter because it is a new. At other venues the pitches have improved a lot over the last few years after being re-laid," he said.

"I have read people billing this series as a battle between Pakistani bowlers and Indian batsmen which is a fair assessment because these areas are strong for both the teams. I think it would be a highly exciting series," said Atkinson who worked in South Africa and for Essex from 1993 to 2001.

"I have worked in South Africa for eight years and am now here to make pitches for producing quality cricket, but there are no specific targets of making fast tracks to support the home team," he said.

"I came here two years ago, soil has no problem, may be, the way the pitches are made here is a problem. The conditions are much similar to South Africa, the clay content is the same and grass is of the same quality," said Atkinson adding the whole idea had been to make consistent pitches in Pakistan.

Reacting to former Australian captain Steve Waugh's call for uniform pitches in the world two years ago, he said, it is impossible to have uniform pitches all over the world because atmospheric conditions are different and making uniform pitches would be detrimental to world cricket."

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