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'I was not expecting so many runs'

The PCB's chief curator is watching the weather as he works to prepare a more lively wicket for the second Test in Faisalabad.

india Updated: Jan 19, 2006 13:27 IST

The Pakistan Cricket Board's chief curator is watching the weather as he works to prepare a more lively wicket for this weekend's second Test between Pakistan and India. "I hope sun shines over the next week," Agha Zahid said as the groundsmen prepared the wicket at Iqbal Stadium.

Zahid was severely criticized for providing a lifeless wicket at the eastern city of Lahore, where the first Test ended in a high-scoring draw onTuesday.

Pakistan posted a formidable total of 679-7 declared before India responded solidly with Virender Sehwag and captain Rahul Dravid just missing the world record opening partnership of 413 when they combined for 410 runs.

Bad light and rain also disrupted the first Test, with only 221 of a possible 450 overs bowled over the five days. "Frankly, I was not expecting so many runs in Lahore," Zahid said.

"But you have to keep in mind that one can't fight against nature and it remained overcast throughout the last three days," he added.

Zahid played just one Test match against the West Indies in 1975, but scored over 13,000 runs in his first class career between 1970-71 and 1992-93.

He blamed wet weather in the province of Punjab for not giving his staff enough time to prepare more lively wickets for the series against India.

"To prepare a good sporting wicket, natural sunshine is a must, but we had a spell of wet weather for the last month and it affected our preparations," Zahid said.

But a bright sunny Thursday in Faisalabad brought a smile to Zahid's face as the Indian team practiced in the nets at the Iqbal Stadium.

"I came here on Jan 14, but the weather only cleared today as it remained cloudy with some rain too," Zahid said. "It's tough for us, but if it remains sunny, I certainly expect more wickets here than what we saw in Lahore."

Although there was hardly any grass on the surface of the wicket being prepared for the second Test, Zahid said it was incorrect that only green pitches help the bowlers.

"Nobody in the world can predict 100 percent how the wickets will behave, no matter whether you leave grass on the wicket or not," he said.

India skipper Dravid had also supported Zahid's view after the Lahore Test.

"I won't criticize the pitch," said Dravid, who took his tally of centuries in Test matches to 21 and hit 19 boundaries in his unbeaten innings of 128.

"It's not easy to prepare a wicket and it's tough to know what it will do, who it will support," he said. "Nature, soil, binding, clay, rolling ... it's not an exact science, sometimes you get it right, sometimes you don't."

First Published: Jan 19, 2006 13:27 IST