Clay-rich soil used in pitch for third India-Pak Test
A special kind of soil that contains an unusual 60 percent of clay has been used for making the pitch at the Pindi Cricket Stadium for the deciding third Test between India and Pakistan starting on Tuesday.
The soil was brought from Nandipur village in Gujranwala, about 250 km from Islamabad, for the pitch that is already the focus of everyone's attention in this dusty twin city of Rawalpindi.
India and Pakistan have won one Test each, with the third one expected to be a cracker of a contest.
"Any soil has three main ingredients — clay, silt and sand. This soil, brought from Nandipur, has an unusually high 60 percent of clay," Agha Zahid, the main curator of the Pakistan Cricket Board, told IANS.
"Nandipur is known for producing rice and sugarcane," he said, implying that the high percentage of clay would result in binding the soil of the pitch for a longer period.
Although Englishman Andy Atkinson is the chief curator, Zahid has been giving him vital assistance in making pitches for the five-match one-day international series and three Tests.
The pitch currently has a lot of grass but much of it is likely to be shaved off when the five-day match begins Tuesday morning.
Zahid, who has been PCB's main pitch curator for three years, said the pitch for the third Test would not be much different from the one on which Pakistan beat India by nine wickets last week to level the series.
The Gaddafi Stadium pitch at Lahore had comparatively more bounce and carry than the bland pitch at Multan Cricket Stadium, where India beat Pakistan for the first time on Pakistani soil by an innings and 52 runs.
"The pitch here won't be much different from the Lahore one. It will have similar bounce and carry as it was at Lahore," said Zahid, a former first-class cricketer.
"The soil used here in Pindi is the same but the weather is different," he said, meaning that the pitch's behaviour depended a lot on local weather conditions. "The behaviour of pitches also depends on the kind of soil available."
Atkinson was strongly criticised by the Pakistan media after the home team's crushing defeat at Multan April 1, and was given special instructions by the PCB to prepare a livelier pitch that would suit the home team's formidable pace attack.
But Zahid said a curator did not have to consult the captain of the home side or anyone else before preparing the pitch.
"We have not consulted anyone for making this pitch. Whatever we think is good for the game, we will do," he said.
Since fast bowlers Shabbir Ahmed and Umar Gul — man-of-the-match in Pakistan's Lahore win — have been ruled out for the decider, it might just have a bearing on the kind of pitch that Atkinson and Zahid would provide.