'Last 15 overs cost us badly' - de Villiers
AB de Villiers, the South Africa captain, said that his side's bowling during the last 15 overs of Pakistan's innings, compounded by poor batting, was a key factor in their 23-run loss in the first ODI at Newlands.
Pakistan were struggling at 131 for 7 in the 36th over before a 74-run, eighth-wicket stand between debutants Bilawal Bhatti and Anwar Ali helped them post a challenging score. The pair had a few big overs in their stand, which lasted almost 12 overs, and South Africa conceded 93 in the last 15. Although de Villiers said the pitch was slow in the second innings, he thought the conditions were similar to what the team had faced in their recent series against Pakistan in the UAE, which South Africa won 4-1.
"I was confident going into the game. I thought we had been playing some good cricket. And today was unfortunately one step backwards again," de Villiers said. "We just weren't good enough with the bat in hand and we leaked a few runs towards the end, in the last 10-15 overs.
"It was disappointing getting them seven down and not following through. The urgency wasn't really in the field in the last 10-15 overs. There were no partnerships with the bat and the last 15 overs cost us badly."
Misbah-ul-Haq, the Pakistan captain, praised Anwar and Bhatti and said their performance was a good sign for a side that lacked depth in the batting order.
"Anwar Ali and Bilawal Bhatti took the responsibility right in their first games," Misbah said. "When the team needed, they delivered with the bat, under pressure and then they also bowled well, that's a good sign for Pakistan.
"The fact that we were not getting anything from No. 8 and No. 9 batsmen was what the side was missing over the last couple of years. They are good fielders and smart bowlers, and the way they batted today was a really good sign for us."
Misbah also said the victory in Cape Town could give Pakistan the impetus they need to record their first bilateral series win over South Africa.
"Everybody knows we haven't won an ODI series against South Africa, so it's really important for us and we will just try to put our 100%," Misbah said. "We have two games and, in the next game, if we can just put in our best efforts and improve our batting performance a little bit, we have a good chance."
De Villiers said he was confident his team would show more hunger in the last two ODIs. "I am not going to get too negative. I look at the squad and I see a lot of really good players. I am not going to panic," de Villiers said. "There are two big games coming up for us in Port Elizabeth and Centurion and we need to fix things right away. We are going to go out there and play with a bit more hunger."