South Africa v Pakistan, 1st Test, Johannesburg, 3rd day

Pakistan scramble up learning curve

The temperament and skill shown by Asad Shafiq and Misbah-ul-Haq may not save the match but should benefit Pakistan for the rest of the series

Firdose Moonda at the Wanderers

February 3, 2013

Comments: 32 | Text size: A | A

One of the most appealing aspects of cricket lies in the battle of wits between batsman and bowler even when it seems like there is little going on. Most of the third day of this Test illustrated that.

After a capitulation in the first innings that even their coach Dav Whatmore forgave because it was prompted by a "relentless" pace-bowling onslaught, Pakistan had to find a way to bat against this South Africa attack. Few line-ups have been able to provide a prototype, especially when conditions favour the bowlers, and the lessons Pakistan learnt on Sunday are theirs to build on and keep for the rest of the series.

Perhaps the most important of them was that it is possible to get the better of the South Africa attack but it takes a careful blend of positivity and patience. If one or the other is applied even slightly incorrectly, the formula fails.

Getting the mix absolutely correct will not happen all the time. In fact, it may not happen even most of the time and the only way it will happen more often than not is when players are experienced enough. A large number of Pakistan's line-up are not primarily because many of them are on their first tour to South Africa.

"We have nine out of eleven playing here for the first time so it has been a learning curve right from the beginning," Whatmore said. "But today the wicket settled down and a combination of the same two factors - a relentless bowling attack and swing - went in the opposite direction and so we did not have the same result."

Whatmore's statement may seem a little cryptic at first reading. But he seems to be indicating that South Africa's bowlers will have to tire at some point and that may come when the conditions demand more of them. If a batting side can wait it out long enough for that to happen, they may be able to get away for a while.

Nasir Jamshed provided the perfect example of that. The debutant opener bided his time but kept scoring at a good rate and showed the ability to capitalise on anything short, wide or too full. He looked as though he could continue, but eventually the intent became too much. He tried a glory shot to get to fifty, but picked out a fielder.

If the milestone wasn't looming, one can only imagine Jamshed would have been more circumspect. Whatmore let him know that irrespective of a maiden fifty on the horizon, he should have been. "I was very upset with Jamshed," he said. "I keep forgetting it's his debut because he has been around the team for a while but I had few words with him and he understands it's for his own good."

Asad Shafiq and Misbah-ul-Haq have since displayed some of the traits needed to overcome South Africa. Both have shown sound temperament but both could have been out as well. That's why, AB de Villiers thinks, no matter how comfortable a batsman looks at the crease against the South Africa attack, he is never entirely so.

"With the variation in our attack, you always feel you could get a good ball," he said. "So I would be positive if I was batting against us because there is no use in just sticking it out there. But you also have to read the situation and understand that at times you can't dominate the bowlers and at times you can and when you can, then you have to have the guts and the skill to do it. The best players in the world can do that."

Michael Clarke and Sachin Tendulkar have scored memorable centuries in South Africa, while Thilan Samaweera and Dean Brownlie are some of the more recent players to have followed suit. All of them relied on the right combination of intent and endurance. Pakistan need one or more of their line-up to find the same.

But they face more obstacles than just getting the balance right. A new ball is due after five overs on Monday morning and South Africa will see that as an opportunity to finish the job. In the first Test against New Zealand in Cape Town, South Africa needed 22 overs with the second ball to end the resistance, in the second, it took just 5.3 overs.

Pakistan's batsmen have already shown themselves to be vulnerable against the new ball, especially if there is movement. Rain is forecast for much of the next two days, humidity levels are expected to be high and Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander will be a dangerous combination.

To counter them, Pakistan will need the temperament of today many times over. Shafiq is one that Whatmore is looking at to hold the fort. "He is definitely one of a few of our boys for the future. His concentration today was pretty good and we hope he gets a good hundred out there," he said.

With the amount of time left in the game, the equation is simple. If Pakistan bat through, they will win but South Africa only need six balls to achieve the same. While de Villiers hopes for a finish "somewhere after lunch" on the fourth day, Whatmore would not be drawn into what he called "result-oriented predictions".

All he is wants it is to "see how far we can take it" because he knows that whatever else Pakistan learn they will be able to apply it in the next two matches. "What's important is that this gives a lot of the players confidence for the next two Tests," Whatmore said. How matters unravel to end this match will determine how much conviction Pakistan can take into the rest of the series.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Fast_Track_Bully on (February 5, 2013, 8:44 GMT)

@HawksEyeFocused. Pakistan won only 3 tests against SA, but Indian won 7. You can twist it as you wish, but truth will remains as it is. That 8-0 country never all out under 50 in those matches.

Posted by gsingh7 on (February 4, 2013, 13:36 GMT)

3-0 whitewash will open pak cricket board eyes to play more on foreign pitches instead playing on dead uae pitches which they win matches in test form(but odi form is abyssmal there) unless these players play on these green tracks they wont get right technique, hope we dont see another sub 100 score from pak (9 in last decade) this time, but i think i wud be proved wrong again

Posted by criclover44 on (February 4, 2013, 12:28 GMT)

Also can anyone tell me if its possible for Pakistan to ask for a practice game before the next match?

Posted by criclover44 on (February 4, 2013, 12:25 GMT)

@LillianThompson man i really appreciate your grasp of the game..wish they were would have been a cracker of a series and more competitive too..anyways i really don't see pak bouncing back in this series although i sure as hell wish they do .Maybe irfan should be given a chance now?

Posted by Sheikasif on (February 4, 2013, 12:03 GMT)

Jamshed has led the team down. Outright selfish attitude. pak has been brough down to earth again. Those saying that pak will outclass SA in tests is not going to happen. Its going to be a whitewash

Posted by quittthewhinging on (February 4, 2013, 11:42 GMT)

Many reasons being advanced as to why Pakistan should have prepared/played differently, and how all problems will be solved by different selections, getting more accustomed to conditions, and above all, by "fairer" umpires. One can understand the need to reflect in this way but please do not reach the stage where you really believe it all.

Instead, admit that Pakistan got thumped in this encounter by the better team and try to turn things around on the field of play in the next two Tests. How, is for the team itself and management to decide.

And please do not be ungracious by trying to belittle the SA team. No team is perfect or unbeatable. I haven't seen one poster from SA who has tried to maintain that this is the case. You play the team that is put in front of you and do your best to win. If you then win, you shouldn't have to put up with faint praise and sometimes even delusional excuses.

And these fora are hardly the place for silly India vs Pakistan comments to be aired.

Posted by matchfixerpkn on (February 4, 2013, 11:36 GMT)

We have nine out of eleven playing here for the first time so it has been a learning curve right from the beginning," .. if that the case ..y notselected experienced players likes of afridi etc..haha ..may be not scored even 49..

Posted by matchfixerpkn on (February 4, 2013, 11:00 GMT)

"We have nine out of eleven playing here for the first time so it has been a learning curve right from the beginning," .. this is best quote of century for any team and their fans :) ..

Posted by matchfixerpkn on (February 4, 2013, 10:58 GMT)

big thanks to smith for giving oppurutnity for spectattres to wahtch 3rd day and second day ..:)

Posted by matchfixerpkn on (February 4, 2013, 10:57 GMT)

for last 10 years they are using same slang...changing pace and inexperienced.. how yoiu will get experience ..even if yu afraid to visit fast pitches.. most time they want to enjoy paly in dead home tracks and to win series and to produce more spin magicians/best fast bowlers... and when visit real field all cry .w.e are not experienced..hahah

Posted by matchfixerpkn on (February 4, 2013, 10:52 GMT)

HawksEyeFocused..shhh..same paksitna with more expereined palyers already scored a hatrick in autralia .0-9 in last 3 seires !!!hm.. but appreicatre your sportive spirit after that record 49..

Posted by vishwa_a on (February 4, 2013, 10:39 GMT)

@Raja Shazad Suleman: Why are you feeling frustrated that SA did not give Pakistan follow-on? It is always good to give your bowers some rest, and batting practice to your key batmen. Like, AB managed to crack a century.

Moreover, SA still managed to crush Pakistan even without follow-on.

Remember -- Cricket has changed a bit. These days, teams like to give 400+ target instead of following the old tradition of follow-on! Ask Steve Waugh what happened in Calcutta!

Posted by   on (February 4, 2013, 9:56 GMT)

I have read comments that Dale Steyn is as good as any fast bowler and he would have enhanced the 70's/80's West Indian Pace Attack. Utter Tosh, any of the Great Fast Bowlers in the Past, Imran, Brett Lee, Shoaib, Wasim, Waqar, Hadlee, Ambrose, Marshall would have demanded of their captain to enforce the follow on. 49 All out in one session yet and SAF was so afraid and negative and worried that Pak may give them a 100 odd to chase was quite pathetic. Any great bowler or team would have enforced the F/O knocked over the batsmen and stated their intent. Instead they have shown pakistan their fear and negativity by allowing it to go to a fourth day when it could have been all over in 1-1/2 days.

Posted by HawksEyeFocused on (February 4, 2013, 7:55 GMT)

Pakistan is doing well there especially with this young squad barring Younis and Misbah. They have the ability to outclass SA in SA unlike other Asian team who lost poorly abroad by scoring 0-8. That Asian team surrendered to Aus and Eng. Pakistan has best win/loss record among the Asian teams vs SA as well as overall.

Posted by Rahul_78 on (February 4, 2013, 7:38 GMT)

I have been following Asad for some time now. No doubt he is a decent player but he has a tendency to get out in tests when the new ball is taken for the second time in an innings. He has definite issues against a new ball. It will be interesting to see weather he has been able to address the issue under Dave. And there wont be any sterner test then facing rampaging Steyn and Vernon with a new ball after they have taken good nights rest.

Posted by screamingeagle on (February 4, 2013, 6:43 GMT)

Traces of the India Eng series. Looked like a mismatch till the 2nd innings of the 1st test. Deja vu?

Posted by hoodbu on (February 4, 2013, 6:26 GMT)

Oh Firdose, you are so magnanimous in your praise to Pakistan. Thank you! For a team that was bundled out for less than 50 in the first innings, we don't deserve that much praise.

Really, if Pakistan can play out something like 40-50 overs with the second new ball, then it no matter how many runs they lose the game by, they have played well. Good point made about batting out many overs with the second new ball against SA, especially when 4 wickets have already fallen.

Posted by orangtan on (February 4, 2013, 5:40 GMT)

Be prepared for the unpredictable, luck at last ran Pakistan's way yesterday, and if Misbah and Shafiq can bat through till lunch and take the score to say 260/4, there will be a lot of nerves in the Saffers dressing-room and they may implode. It was a bit too bold of Smith to declare so early and it may come back to haunt him.

Posted by   on (February 4, 2013, 5:14 GMT)

With the help of rain, Pakistan can have a draw here. Probably that's what they are praying. The whole series has lost its color, on the 2nd day. One or two 300+ innings will not be enough to save this series. With home series gone, sticking to players like yonus and misbah won't allow their future players to adapt. They should let their young players be part of the team, particularly when experienced players are reaching new heights in the hall of shame!

Posted by Fast_Track_Bully on (February 4, 2013, 4:29 GMT)

Pakistan yet again proved that they do not have the bench strength. They are still relaying on veterans like Mishbha and Yunis. And combination of less talented youngsters and finished seniors gave them the lowest total in test cricket. As someone said earlier, pakistan is a hyped team by its fans but in reality, their performances based on individuals and luck.

Posted by LillianThomson on (February 4, 2013, 2:59 GMT)

This Test match has been terrific, but predictable.

SA bat first, and a very disciplined and skilful Pakistan attack restricts them to a moderate total.

Pakistan then collapse in the face of a superb 30 overs of South African bowling, due to a combination of inadequate local preparation and acclimatisation combined with batting strategies ill-suited to South Africa (long tail, defensive posture).

Pakistan then reduce South Africa to 90-3 but de Villiers and Amla launch the sort of counter-attack against the old ball which Umar Akmal should have been launching from number 6.

Then we have seen Pakistan come out in their Second Innings and play like a team batting in its fourth innings since arriving in South Africa. Which it is.

I expect SA to smash through with the new ball.

And we'll never know if the following could do better in Johannesburg:

1. Butt 2. Jamshed 3. Younis 4. Misbah 5. Shafiq 6. U Akmal 7. Azhar Mahmood 8. Sarfraz 9. Amir 10. Junaid 11. Asif

Posted by Sports4Youth on (February 3, 2013, 22:52 GMT)

The game is already in its last phases and Ajmal, Hafeez, Petersen have put in a combined 63 overs. Petersen was not even called up to bowl in the first innings. Upto thist point the pitch is not showing any signs of any help for the spinners. If that is true then you really nead a specialist spinner in the game. Hafeez & Azhar Ali can be used to fill in some overs. Younis can provide with some overs to give the fast bowlers some rest. By doing this you can draft in Harris Sohail in the team. With a first class batting average of 52 he should not be sitting on the bench. This way you will not be wasting a spot on a spinner and the batting will get much needed support.

Posted by Guduji71 on (February 3, 2013, 22:38 GMT)

South Africa is the best team in the world at least in test matches, I don't think any one would will argue that. They are missing one good spinner, otherwise, their bowling attack is no doubt the best. Thier fast bowlers are unbelievably dangerous in home conditions. On the other hand Pakistan is a team which lacks experience in SA, then they are not used to the pitches in SA and then we all can c the standard of the third umpire decesions. No doubt SA has upper hand but then you add the umpire's biased decesions and that makes the competition very unfair. Most of the decesions have gone against Pakistan. ICC must do someting about it,as it makes the competition very unfair. I also want to comment on Younis Khan's batting. He probably has forgotton where is off stump is, he must work on it, otherwise, just good smile is not going to do any good on its own. Tanvir or Irfan should play instead of the new bowler. Hafeez should bat down the order to get more out of him.

Posted by Syed_imran_abbas on (February 3, 2013, 21:34 GMT)

Pakistan lacks practice.. they should have more than one practice game before the start of this series. i am very dissappointed with the way hafeez got out.. cmon man that ball deserved a boundry not a wicket.. nasir jamshed will improve with every game. i hope they put irfan or tanvir or ehsan adil in squad for next game as other guy wasnt upto mark.

Posted by golgo_85 on (February 3, 2013, 20:52 GMT)

I hardly see Pakistan losing this series - Younis and Ajmal will be crucial in the next 2 matches plus Azhar won't go without scoring a big one. I'd say 1-1 by the end of 3rd Test which will be long enough for Steyn to lose some gas. Now, Philander, there's someone who just might change the scoreline to 3-0. For SA, I'd definitely lose R Peterson and go with a 5 men pace attack in the next 2 matches.

Posted by AK47_pk on (February 3, 2013, 19:59 GMT)

Its not about losing but how u lose it. This pak team is different nd they have will to fight. They wont just lie down nd let any team crush them. They will fight or atleast try to fight. Tyey still have 5 overs left with the new ball nd shud be able to get setteled in those 5 overs nd get ready for new ball. We dnt mind losing but we, ll not swallow a loss without any fight. Misbah is a great fighter nd he brings best out of a batsman who is playing at other end. Our prayers nd thoughts are with you boys. Sa bowlers are world class but they get bored when wickets are not coming. We saw it today nd it can happen again tomorrow. Who knows.

Posted by malepas on (February 3, 2013, 19:46 GMT)

One thing is very clear SA bolwling is good but not as one of the best as everybody is braging about,I would rate them behind England,,the only lesson from the 2nd innings to learn for Pakistan,,they must send thier batsmen at least 3 weeks before test series for preperatiions,,England has found this method and thats why last 2 yeasr or so has been very good aprt from UAE,and thats why they insist on playing at least 3 side matches before the series,,plus thier performance squad would be there for fringe players,,off course ECB has more money but PCB should learn something out of this,,the more thier batsmen will play, easier it will get and that showed in 2nd innings, you can't afford to land a week before in SA,AUS and Eng, teams must send your players at least 3 weeks before any test series and arrange at least 3 side matches and you will see the results,,this is espacialy for sub-continent teams..This Pak team should have given proper chance for this series.Good luck

Posted by adnan_rifat84 on (February 3, 2013, 19:37 GMT)

Don't worry guys it's all about fun of cricket. What a lovely game. Pakistan have 9 news guys in the team give them some time on South African pitches they will show there performance to the world, they are young guns and learning it every day. 2nd innings is much better than 1st one so it means they really learning from the mistakes they are making. Just avoid off stump deliveries not try to touch every ball, wait for the loose ball you can win in South Africa.

Posted by SirViv1973 on (February 3, 2013, 19:22 GMT)

After some fine performances in familiar type conditions pak have been sent hurling back down 2 earth with a bump. The truth is since the rebuilding work began following the tour 2 eng 3 yrs ago pak have not been tested outside Asia. Series wins in nzl & a drawn series in the win proved little other than this is a side with a handful of good players but not a team that can challenge the best in unfamiliar conditions. The batting is full of blockers & devoid of any genuine stroke makers. As 4 the bowling, on turning pitches its probably the best equiped in world cricket, but they won't find many of these in saf, eng or aus. The seam bowling always looked like it would struggle here gul is gd without being exceptional, junaid is a talent but very much a wk in progress at this stage with the other options way short of class & experience

Posted by suniljoseph on (February 3, 2013, 19:13 GMT)

Well, friends we all know that the match is going to be won by South Africa but the intent which has been shown by three batsmen of Pakistan is enough for the batting line up to take example from. If in the rest of of the series they can follow this example, it would be an interesting series. For this series I just pray to heavens that Pakistan take this into the fifth day.

Posted by khurramsch on (February 3, 2013, 18:43 GMT)

Yes rightly so.its just a matter of time. But pak should try to spend as much time as possible. Only 1 result is possible . But this will give them some batting practice for next 2 matches. Jamshed, hafez, younad played bad shots and soft dimisals.

Agree with ab here, at times pak just play to stay ay crease annd not score runs which isn't good. You have to rotate strike to avoid pressure. This match is finished for them new bsll arounf the corner .

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