South Africa tour of UAE 2013-14 October 20, 2013

Whatmore aims for strong series finish


Dav Whatmore has first-hand experience of how South Africa deal with losing. Thirteen years ago, they were cleaned up by an innings and 15 runs in Galle, thanks to a 13-wicket Muttiah Muralitharan special, and responded with a seven-run win in Kandy to square the series. Jacques Kallis is the only survivor from that tour but Whatmore believes South Africa still retain that attitude.

"They are very hard, very resilient," the Pakistan coach said. "You write them off at your peril because they come back hard." With that in mind, Pakistan know what to expect as they aim to account for another No.1 side and Whatmore believes they've had enough time to ready themselves for that.

He attributed Pakistan's success in the first Test to three key things, chief among them being sufficient practice. "We're better prepared against this opposition than we were the last time we played them in South Africa," he said. When Pakistan were white-washed 3-0 earlier in March this year, they had not played a Test for seven months but this time they had matches in Zimbabwe and practice games at home before the series.

With game time under the belts and changes to the squad, Pakistan were better equipped to exploit the 'home' advantage. "Conditions are different and we've had a slight change of personnel. It was a good, competitive effort over the four days."

Mohammad Hafeez's axing is thought to have sparked the change as Pakistan experimented with new openers and enjoyed success. Whatmore praised the selectors but stopped short of using one game to forecast long-term plans.

"Some credit should be given to the selectors, in terms of the ability to see Shan Masood. He is a good batsman, technically, and has a bright future," he said. "That's the thing with bold decisions, sometimes they come off, sometimes not.

"With Khurram, he played a lot of first-class cricket in Pakistan and you need that. Players have to go through a hard grind. He has the benefit of doing that. He came in with a bank of runs behind him and there was every chance he would do well. Now, he has to be consistent. This next match is a test for him but he certainly has the ability."

For Whatmore, Pakistan's win was a demonstration of their potential as a unit, something he knew all along. "I wasn't surprised we did well. Leading up to this series, people in Pakistan were alluding to the loss in Zimbabwe and were saying we didn't have a chance. In my mind that was never the case. I knew we could be competitive. We're better prepared. Conditions are different. We have other players. These things do matter."

And they will matter again when Pakistan take the field on Wednesday hoping to pull off another coup and prompt the decline of another No.1. South Africa's lead at the top of the Test rankings will be cut by 10 points if they lose two-nil (it currently sits at 19), which may be one reason Misbah said he would ask for a "result pitch" in Dubai.

Whatmore, however, said he had given the groundsman "no instructions" on what to do and that he has "prepared the pitch as he always does." Since Pakistan have been forced to make the UAE their home, Dubai has hosted four Tests with only one, against South Africa in 2010, a draw.

In that game, Pakistan had fought back after conceding a first-innings deficit. Misbah had said it felt like a win and Whatmore indicated he wouldn't be unhappy if the same thing happens again.

"I want to win the series. One-nil is just as good as two-nil," Whatmore said. "A hard-fought draw is very important for every team. I won't be upset if we don't win as long as we finish the game well." And that will mean not finishing it the way Sri Lanka did in Kandy.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on October 22, 2013, 12:26 GMT

    Pressure,pressure,pressure---thats what S.A must apply to Pakistan..people tend to forget that S.A actually uncharacteristically fluffed chances-Kallis drop at slip and Steyn bowling the right handed Khurram with a ball that kissed the stumps,flicking the off stick but not dislodging the bail...Christmas wont come again with such gifts as we saw in Pakistan's brief second innings.Big vIctory for S.A

  • Dummy4 on October 22, 2013, 8:36 GMT

    romanticstud plz stop remember this and remember that.....REMEMBER 1 THINK sa is playing against pakistan....and pakistan is unpredictable...if they wANNA loose they can fold upto 40 score and if pakistan wanna win it doesnot matter where ther r playing and which team is they r upto

  • Andrew on October 22, 2013, 6:37 GMT

    Remember ... don't count your chickens ... or in this case your wickets ... before they are taken ... A winning test team needs to take 20 wickets ... Pakistan managed that ... but remember South Africa in Australia last year ... battling to draw the second test and then comprehensively outplaying Australia as though it was Australia that battled to draw ... Remember Amla and maybe Steyn might be away ... but the fact is Smith, Petersen, Kallis, Duminy, De Viliers, Du Plessis, still make a great top 6 ... and Philander, Morkel, Peterson, Tahir, Kallis and Duminy , even Du Plessis could bowl for South Africa ... and normally when the best is away the rest up their game ...

  • Dummy4 on October 22, 2013, 5:07 GMT

    He should have told how good is 1-1.

  • David on October 22, 2013, 0:36 GMT

    There is some validity in Whatmore's comments. Going hell-for-leather for a win could expose Pak to a loss. Last year, in Adelaide, Aus were well on top & after a few wickets fell quickly at the start of inns 2, SA were clearly playing for the draw. Aus threw everything they could at SA to try to get the win. SA played them to a standstill, & at the end of the match, to SA it felt like a win, and Aus looked defeated.

    For SA, that draw was as good as a win. SA were on a high, & Aus were stunned, deflated, & had exhausted their players. Their selectors made stupid changes, team cohesion was lost, & SA destroyed them in the last test.

    If Pak overcommit to the win, and a loss results, accusations will be leveled at Misbah & Whatmore, & Pak's team will lose ground.

    As a Saffa I would love to see SA take the next test, but the win would only be sweet if deserved, & not if Pak play themselves into a loss.

    A whitewash sounds great, but a series draw now will be like a loss for Pak.

  • Azfar on October 21, 2013, 20:52 GMT

    The 3 quick wickets in the 2nd innings of the first test is a sign that Pakistani openers are young and not mature. The target was only 40 runs so the youngsters got carried away, even Misbah was not batting like Misbah in second innings. In second test the openers have to show the responsibility just like in the first innings of the first test. Hopefully Pakistan will be ok. Go Pakistan!

  • Dummy4 on October 21, 2013, 18:35 GMT

    Playing for a draw would eventually hand Pakistan defeat. No matter what Watmore says about Sri Lanka and Kandy, he should not forget this is Pakistan that he's managing. Any other team would have gone out with a stronger mindset with a win against SA and be more aggressive to ensure they do not spoil their advantage.

    I wish Misbah was 10% as aggressive a captain as Shahid Afridi!!!I'm not saying Afridi's aggressive approach is always good...but with Misbah's defensive approach you do need a bit of Afridi at times!!

  • Ali on October 21, 2013, 16:34 GMT

    "A hard-fought draw is very important for every team"

    Wow, these are the comments of Pakistani coach about a match which is not even started yet. What a defensive coach, explains why we lost to Zimbabwe. I was a bit unhappy with Ajmal comments earlier but now i completely agree with him. Pakistan need a Pakistani coach with a positive mind, which only think about winning. Playing 5 days match for draw just is the worst thing for Cricket.

  • Dummy4 on October 21, 2013, 16:34 GMT

    Pak need to score 350 plus in their first innings to create a chance for them. Elgar has good technique, he will fill in the gap created by Amla. Steyn should play if SA is looking to win the next test & he will play. Younis needs to get some runs.Sorry Younis but, A double century against Zimbabwe is not enough. Robin Petterson should be dropped, he was below average in the last match.

  • Dummy4 on October 21, 2013, 14:29 GMT

    Attack is best form of defence. Its negative to be happy with 1 nil. No one should try to draw a test before the match has started

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