Pakistan v South Africa, 2nd Test, Dubai October 21, 2013

De Villiers calls for character


AB de Villiers has called for a show of character from South Africa's Test side as they attempt to protect an away record that has stretched more than seven years. South Africa have not lost a series on the road since 2006 and need to win in Dubai to ensure that statistic remains intact.

With a five-day turnaround between Tests, de Villiers said it is too short to rethink strategies so the troubleshooting has to be done on their mindset instead. "We were one or two out of ten [in Abu Dhabi] compared to the standard we set and we didn't play the big moments well," de Villiers said. "There aren't a lot of positives from the first Test so we need a lot of self-belief. There's not a lot of time. You can't run around for a month and hope to get better. Technical changes can't happen but we need a fresh mindset."

Tactically, there are some things South Africa can improve on. Their bowlers started off employing the wrong length - too short instead of a touch fuller - and their batsmen appeared fragile against the Pakistan attack. Although the spinners shared seven wickets between them, de Villiers thought it was the seamers South Africa were surprisingly disappointing against.

"They did the damage by getting big wickets up front. And there were a couple of soft dismissals as well, including mine. Who knows, if I hadn't got run-out in the first innings, Hashim and I could still be batting."

Pakistan's attack out-thought South Africa by what de Villiers called "clever plans," and he thinks South Africa can counter those with a different approach. They had a short-leg in place from early on in the innings in case of an edge from extra bounce off from Mohammad Irfan's end. He was brought into play to see the end of Alviro Petersen. They also placed a man in an unconventional position behind square leg for JP Duminy's sweep shot and he was caught in the trap.

Part of the preparation for this Test has been about finding solutions for strategies such as those. "We are finding ways to fix the problems and we are going to try and get it right in the second Test," he said. "We haven't played cricket like that in a long time. We know if we don't play to your full potential, there are teams that are going to beat us and if we do perform to our full potential we will come out on top."

He said conditions, although unfamiliar, were not a good enough reason for South Africa's below par-performance. "We just didn't adapt quickly enough but there are no excuses at this level not to get used to things," he said. "We would have loved a series before this or maybe a few more warm-up games but the best teams in the world believe they are ready no matter what."

And so, whether they have done enough practice or not, de Villiers has asked the team to go into the second Test believing they are ready, that they will be able to perform to the highest level and that they will be able to walk away with a win. "We dipped big time in the last Test. and letting ourselves down which is the thing that hurt the most," he said. "We have to go in with the attitude that we are not going to lose this series."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Atif on October 22, 2013, 23:31 GMT

    Sometimes over confidence can be a detriment. South Africa were guilty of that. While desire the fight and win no matter what the circumstances can bring about surprising results. Pakistan, definitely capitalized on their hunger for victory.

  • Nasser on October 22, 2013, 21:41 GMT

    And, Misbah could do with winning a few tosses. He has put Pakistan under undue pressure for continuing losing the toss. Normally it should be a 50/50 chance. In his case it is more like 20/80?, including the 3 tests in SA this year.

  • Grant on October 22, 2013, 19:28 GMT

    @Jonathan October: Rubbish!! Pakistan was not the best team over 5 days. What cricket were you watching on day 5 when it was all over on the 4th? Other than that, you're of course completely right.

  • Dummy4 on October 22, 2013, 18:01 GMT

    @Greatest_Game: The press and tv both traditionally have had a habit of undermining Pakistan as best they can. I am not whingeing when I say I have experienced it far more from TV commentators than cricinfo (who do it mildly at worst). When Pakistanis (whom I acknowledge the world's worst batsmen) hit a four, the commentators immediately say "Freebie!!!", when a Pakistani bowler is hit for a four, they say "Well struck, beautiful shot", even if it is a full toss or a half volley. Thanks for your comments about us Pakistanis. I try my best that my comments show that Pakistanis are big-hearted enough to acknowledge their weaknesses and others' strengths. The reason we were so proud of this win was because we know South Africa is a good team. As for Zimbabwe, I was very happy for them, the test loss did hurt but on the other hand it is what we cricket fans want, that Zimababwe is so good that beating them comprehensively (as we did on the previous tour) doesn't feel like kicking a puppy.

  • Inam on October 22, 2013, 14:10 GMT

    No Amla, Smith and Kallis coming from long absence and Steyn not 100 percent, it does not look good for SA, If Pakistan bats first and score big, SA will have hard time saving game.

  • Tim on October 22, 2013, 11:51 GMT

    The South African boys will know they are in for a battle. One of the foundations of the success of their gradual, ascent to the top of the world rankings has been their respect of the opponent. They may look back at themselves and think they may have underestimated Pakistan in the first test. But they too much class and pedigree to do it again. Not to mention pride. They will leave nothing behind on the pitch once the game is over.

  • Dummy4 on October 22, 2013, 7:01 GMT

    Inshallah....... As world Knows the Afghanistan as a Killer land for all time world Supers as a graveyard, Quite rightly Pakistan Has proved this in cricketing since on every appearence against world no.1 test side ruined by Pakistan in UAE, 1st She grabbed the U.K and Now South Africa................. Means Pakistan keeps its vertue of Unpredictability in Performance....................

  • Dummy4 on October 22, 2013, 5:40 GMT

    to chance for smith to be succeeded in UAE, ominous for Kallis too

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

    sa wud always struggle when on flat and turning wickets last time they played in india they lost in virtually last minutes of the last test to let pass the chance to win number one spot in icc rankings which india retained.evrrubody knows that when stakes are high sa fluffed their grounds. I wont be surprised if sa lose 2nd test as well.