Whatmore rues Pakistan's complacency
Pakistan had dominated the first three days of the Test in nearly all departments, but their bowlers were unable to close out Sri Lanka in the second innings. Angelo Mathews struck a career-best 157 not out to help his side draw the game. "It wasn't the batting collapse [of the lower order in the first innings]. It was a case of thinking it would be easy," Whatmore said. "The boys batted extremely well but everyone was thinking that it will be easy thereafter, despite talking about it and letting each other know that more hard work had to be done."
Pakistan started well in their first innings courtesy centuries from captain Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan, but slipped from a strong 301 for 3 to finish 383 all out. "At that point, there were still nine sessions in the game and the reality is that we lost regular wickets. We could have got more runs but we left the door open."
Whatmore was appointed head coach in March 2012 and Pakistan are yet to win a Test series under him, and have been successful in only two out of 11 matches during his tenure. He was eager to correct those statistics, especially in his last chance to do so. "[The goal is] obviously to win, particularly against Sri lanka, the team I coached for six years," he said with a genial smile. "It is my country of birth and I am keen on doing well against them. Some of them are very good friends but when I enter the field we are enemies, so I am keen to finish the stint with a win.
"It [Abu Dhabi] was a decent Test pitch but day three was the turning point for both teams, in a negative way for us and positive way for them," he said. "They had us under a bit of pressure in their second innings, but still we did a pretty good job and with little bit of luck - had we not lost Ahmed Shehzad [in the chase] - we may have certainly thought about going on to win the match."
Pakistan's search for a resolute pair at the top of the order has been a long and arduous affair, but Whatmore was pleased to note how Shehzad, on Test debut, showed his credentials to open the batting.
"There have been so many positives to take through to the Dubai Test. Our top-order batting carried on with the form they had been in in the recent limited-overs series. Debutant Ahmed Shehzad had a pretty good game and he knows that and young [Bilawal] Bhatti demonstrated that he's got the ability to take wickets.
"We wanted to sort out the top order sooner rather than later. One of the areas of concern was negotiating the new ball and we did that well. We didn't lose a wicket until say 20 overs and they [openers] made good contributions, but we need consistency."
With the second Test beginning on Wednesday, Pakistan chose to rest the bowlers who played in Abu Dhabi at training. Whatmore has placed the onus on them to pick up 20 wickets.
Saeed Ajmal, an important factor in that regard, went wicketless in 49 second-innings overs, but Whatmore was quick to support his ace offspinner. "I don't think it [Ajmal's performance] was a worry, it was a combination of the difficulties he faced extracting something out of the wicket as well as opposition playing very well," he said. With Dubai traditionally known to provide turn, Whatmore also hinted at Abdur Rehman getting a game, "but we have to look at the pitch. It rained today in Dubai and the weather changed so we have to look at the pitch."
Whatmore was wary about Sri Lanka's skill at playing spin but reiterated that the nature of the pitch would have a major say in the team selection. "Well, you can say that but I am a firm believer that regardless of who you play against, it [the composition] depends on what pitch you play on. The nature of the pitch determines what combination you play."
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. He tweets here