Pakistan v Sri Lanka 2013-14 January 6, 2014

Whatmore rues Pakistan's complacency

Dav Whatmore, on his final assignment as Pakistan's head coach, picked out complacency on the part of his side as one of the main reasons for the first Test against Sri Lanka ending in a tame draw.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • kauser on January 8, 2014, 4:37 GMT

    It is really depressing to watch a match for five days and realize it was time wasted. Why are cricket fans and media not screaming for rule change so there is always a result? No wonder only crows and pigeons come to watch the game.

  • Dummy4 on January 7, 2014, 7:22 GMT

    the wicket was too flat in last 3 days. even on 5th day , while pak was batting, the wicket was still good for batting. I hope dubai pitch will be a bit different and result oriented. whoever wins, but we need a result. 1st test was a swinging for 4 days but in the end a draw. both teams looked equal.

  • Tahir on January 7, 2014, 6:45 GMT

    No question of complacency here as pitch became easier for batting as time passed and even king of doosra was unable to pick any more wickets. Pakistan were scoring briskly during the chase and did not lose any wickets quickly.In the last session herath was good enough to contain the run rate. It was SL who delayed the declaration and very rightly so as they would have lost the match then. It was pakistan who pushed for win while SL preferred to be on the backfoot.

  • Dummy4 on January 7, 2014, 4:09 GMT

    I think the too friendly or brotherly attitude of the two teams towards each other dilutes the vigor and killing instinct of the game. May be few rough patches in the relation and a friction or two in the field add little more spices into the enthusiasm.

  • Sachit on January 7, 2014, 3:55 GMT

    Pak fell short of bowling options. Too much of dependency of Ajmal who did not click. Hafeez was fifth bowler so underused and Rahat Ali went wicketless. Bilawal was also inexperienced. Only bowler who did good was Junaid. I am not sure why Pak team management preferred Rahat and Bilawal ahead of Gul and Talha.

  • Faisal on January 6, 2014, 23:59 GMT

    Dave Whatmore has a successful record with other teams but I really dont understand how can you really coach guys in English, where they bring in a translator to collect man of the match award. You have to feel for team members as well as coach for being in such unique situation. I think Pakistan team will be better of sticking with local coach.

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