Having complained privately over the last year about playing crucial matches on lively, green pitches, Pakistan are now hoping more of the same will be on offer in South Africa for the Twenty20 World Championship in September.
Pakistan were poleaxed by South Africa in the Champions Trophy in Mohali last year on an unusually lively pitch. In the first round of the World Cup earlier this year, they were outfoxed by Ireland on a grassy surface. Both results led to some players and officials complaining of a conspiracy of sorts against Pakistan by the ICC but with their pace attack likely to be back at full strength, they are keen for similar tracks.
"We want to play on fast tracks," Talat Ali, Pakistan manager, told The News. "All our top pacers are back and available for selection and we are confident that we will go to South Africa with a pace attack second to none."
Instead of worrying about their batsmen's traditional inability to play on such surfaces, Talat believes Pakistan will look forward to letting their fast bowlers loose. "We have some of the best fast bowlers in the world in Shoaib Akhtar, Mohammad Asif, Mohammad Sami and Umar Gul. If they make fast tracks I believe it will help us more than other teams.
The batsmen are finding some form too; Salman Butt led the way with a century in one of the practice games that saw 371 runs scored in 40 overs. Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez have also been scoring runs in the practice games.
It is likely now, however, that there will be only one practice match every other day during the camp, and not two, as was originally planned. Malik said players found it tough to maintain intensity levels after the first match in such difficult weather conditions.
"We are planning to talk to officials about it and hope they will ease the schedule a bit. We were in full flow in the opening match of the day but by the time the second began most of us were feeling tired which is why the effort wasn't the same."