South Africa v Pakistan, 2nd Test, Cape Town, 4th day February 17, 2013

My dismissal the turning point - Misbah


Just as a captain is supposed to, Misbah-ul-Haq went down with his ship, as Pakistan lost the Newlands Test in four days, and with it the series. He went as far as to say he was responsible for their downfall, a brave but necessary admission from a leader who should not bear all the blame but was willing to do so.

On 114 for 3, Pakistan were 100 runs short of what many thought would have been a total challenging enough to be match-winning. To get there, Misbah had to bat a while longer. He had no problems facing Robin Peterson and was sweeping with ease, until one went wrong. His mistake was that he top-edged to short fine-leg and he acknowledged it was a costly one.

"That was the turning point. After that, the collapse started," Misbah said of his dismissal. "We really blame ourselves. We made mistakes and we couldn't afford to do that."

Pakistan, however, had let themselves down long before Misbah's second-innings dismissal. Allowing Robin Peterson to score 84 at No. 8 and take South Africa to within 12 runs of Pakistan's first-innings total was what Graeme Smith regarded as most significant. "The way Robbie batted was pretty inspirational," he said. "We knew that getting as close as we could to their total was going to be key."

A lack of adequate back up for Saeed Ajmal was Pakistan's main problem and Tanvir Ahmed's selection remained a mystery. Tanvir offered neither pace nor movement and, although his first-innings runs were valuable, he did not perform in the role he was selected for.

Mohammed Hafeez was used too sparingly and brought on too late and as South Africa crept up on Pakistan, they erased the advantage. "The lead should have been 70 or 80 runs," Misbah said.

Although Pakistan began their second innings on level terms, mentally they were behind, and then their openers departed in the space of two overs. "The third innings can be the toughest of the Test match," Smith said. "You've got to make a play and if you are not positive enough the game can get you. That's what happened to Pakistan."

Still, Pakistan entered day four with the opportunity to take control, especially with the knowledge that their nemesis, the new ball, was a session and more away. Their shot selection and decision making let them down though. Asad Shafiq lacked awareness when the ball bounced behind him and he didn't know where it was until it had hit his off stump. Sarfraz Ahmed mysteriously left a Peterson delivery that spun back and bowled him, and Umar Gul chased a wide one.

Feats such as bowling England out for 72 would have inspired Pakistan but Newlands is not the UAE - although Graeme Smith said conditions were "not ideal" for the home side - and South Africa are not England. Like the previous world No.1 side, they struggled against Ajmal and had Pakistan set a higher target, Misbah expected the mindset would have been different.

"Whenever you are chasing 250 in the last innings and Saeed Ajmal is on the opposition side, it is difficult," Misbah said. "And pressure is different when you are chasing 250 to when you are chasing 180. Ajmal really gave us a chance but we could not [put] pressure from both sides and runs were flowing. If we could have bowled more overs and restricted them, it might have been different."

Smith admitted his side did not have a method to counter the Ajmal yet. "It can be guesswork at times. He bowls a quick pace and delayed action makes it difficult to use your feet. The toughest part is to pick which way the ball is going. And he is very consistent and a lands a lot of balls in the right areas."

Ajmal's ten wickets are an achievement that will long be remembered and marvelled at. "He is a world-class bowler and he proved that today against a top quality side by taking ten wickets against South Africa in South Africa," Misbah said. "They know he can cause problems for them."

Pakistan need a lot more of Ajmal's type of discipline to earn a consolation win in Centurion. They have already provided a sterner contest than South Africa have had all summer and have got better over the two matches.

"We lost the Test series but we know we are playing against the No.1 team in the world in their own conditions and we will try to put a better showing there," Misbah said. "We want to stick to the basics and spend time at the crease. There was a little bit of panic today at the time when Peterson was bowling. We can't do that. Experience makes a big difference in this kind of game. You need to have experience to develop."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on February 20, 2013, 10:48 GMT

    Quite funny, that when he should have taken responsibility of our defeat (Mohai 2011), he did not say a thing in media, and when it was not entirely because of his dismissal that we lost, he comes out and takes the responsibility of it. Yes should not at all be apologetic of playing that sweep - we needed quick runs at that stage and he was a set batsman who should have gone for them. Though, Him and Azhar did become too defensive to a non-swinging old bowl, and then some reckless shots were suddenly being played. They should have biult innings by taking looking for singles and punishing the bad bowls.

  • Dummy4 on February 20, 2013, 9:40 GMT

    Play Shoaib Malik he is in form

  • A on February 19, 2013, 22:04 GMT

    So some PAK fans are still being what they are best at!! Complaining and moaning about everything!! The matter of fact is SA has a lot of experience and have atleast 7 quality players who can walk into any team in the world (4 batsmen and 3 bowlers). Myabe MIsbah was being negative and was not aggressive enough, but people forget that selection of the final team is not only upto the captain. And the argument about playing Reham is non startes, you cant select a bowler "just in case" wicket started to take turn later in the innings. And about getting rid of Misbah, who are you going to make captain of test team? PAK has tried Younis & he does not want it anymore, Hafeez needs to concentrate on his game. So who else is left?? I seem to recall 2010 of PAK, when it was in total mess.PAK is now 4 in test ranking , highest in subcontinent, which means best Asain team at this time. This is despite poor openers,wicketkeeper batsman & inexperience fast bowlers.

  • Muhammad on February 19, 2013, 20:36 GMT

    Pakistan lineup in third test in batting order should be: Nasir, Azhar, Younus, Hafeez, Asad, Misbah, Sarfraz (we don't have alternative), Rahman, Junaid, Ajmal, Irfan.

    Nasir is due a good knock. People expect a lot from him.

    Azhar is a better player of pace bowling as compared to spin. If promoted to top, he will help in seeing off the new ball even if he doesn't score much.

    Hafeez can't play new swinging ball. Moving him down the order will not only help the team but will also help him in regaining his confidence. One thing I couldn't get in first match was that Hafeez is a proper allrounder. Why did Misbah not trust him with ball on a spin friendly pitch.

    Every other team's wicketkeeper is a proper batsman.Unfortunately we don't have that privilege so we will have to go with Sarfraz.

    Tanvir was good with bat but was so poor with ball that we can't keep him.

    I hope Pakistan will show some fight this time too and win the match hopefully.

  • Tom on February 19, 2013, 15:45 GMT

    Misbah, your poor selection turned the game. In the first Test you didn't select the more obvious Irfan on a pacy wicket and in this Test you only have two wicket takers and the rest are garbage. Any lead of 100+ will surely demoralized SAfricans and would have lifted the spirit of Pak players.

  • Munaf on February 19, 2013, 15:14 GMT

    Well I can bet my last penny Dale sTeyn will take 10 wickets and Develliers and Amla will score 150+ individual score. The second test saw some rare herculean efoort from Pakistan ( Younis/Ajmal) to bring close the match. Now a herculean efoort is due from SA batters so this time 500 is on cards and eventually 3-0 ( not surprised)

  • aziz on February 19, 2013, 15:14 GMT

    Misbah is too defensive. Leave Misbah, Imran Farhat, Azhar Ali, Sarfaraz and Tanvir out of ODI and t-20. Pakistan must try young aggressive players in ODI and t-20. Why the selectors are insisting with Faisal Iqbal in the team when the team management don't want to give him a chance. It was better to have sent in Kamarn Akmal as additional wicket-keeping batsman when Taufiq was injured and Afridi in place of the other injured fast bowler. Fawad Alam should be a must for all format, he is the best middle order batsman under crisis situation and a good fielder.

  • Munafs on February 19, 2013, 15:02 GMT

    First test lost in 3 days and a score of 49 as minimum. Second test lost in 4 days and lowest score is 169 all out. Third test most likely to loose in 5 days and min score maybe 200. Pakistan is improving surely and that's a positive thing to look forward too.

  • Yasir on February 19, 2013, 9:47 GMT

    Hats off to SA for winning . . . . Proud of Pakistan for going down but not without a fight. In the end, its the way one plays and fights is what matters.

  • Faisal on February 19, 2013, 8:59 GMT

    Well, well.., as usual, the Misbah bashers have come into play - and man, have they really got the chance they were always looking for! You must be licking your lips, guys. After all, it was the Test matches where you never could point a finger at him; ODI's are not his strongest points, and T-20 is not his game anyway. Misbah was always cut out to be a batsman and a captain for the larger, most challenging version of the game, which is, in other words, the "real thing", despite all the glamor and fun associated with the limited overs' versions. So everyone has now conveniently forgotten what he has done for Pakistan cricket over the last 2 years or so - rebuilding from scratch a side that was down in the dumps, hitting the lowest of the low, rocked with controversies and internal disputes! One thing I would add though: this time, he has sure faltered on one thing, and thats team selection. Had Irfan been in the first test and Rahman in the second, things could have been different.