Zimbabwe batting coach Lance Klusener has blamed soft dismissals for his batsmen's capitulation on the second day at Queens Sports Club and denied that the home side's preparation of a spinning track had backfired.
"There were about eight soft dismissals in our innings," Klusener said. "Way too many soft dismissals, and the boys are upset with themselves. That wasn't how we wanted to play.
"But we saw it [the spinning track] as an opportunity to try and nail the first Test match. Had we applied ourselves a little better and got a little bit of a lead, that would have gone to plan. We played reasonably well in Sri Lanka and we'd like to think that going forward [playing spin] is a strength of ours. But it isn't easy to bat out there. Having won the toss would have helped as well."
Zimbabwe were bowled out for 159 on day two, with Devendra Bishoo's legspin and reverse-swing from a three-pronged pace attack doing the damage. Zimbabwe's batsmen also continued to play their strokes, even as wickets started to tumble. Solomon Mire was caught slogging to deep midwicket, while Brendan Taylor reverse-swept to slip, Sean Williams was caught flashing outside off stump, and Sikandar Raza skied a drive to long-off.
The shots were part of the plan, Klusener suggested, but Zimbabwe's execution was off. "We do want to score runs, it's how we want to play Test cricket. We want to be aggressive. We'd like to make smarter decisions, way smarter decisions than what we saw today.
"Solomon plays a lot of one-day cricket, he plays attacking cricket, and we don't want to change too much about the way he plays. Raza would be the first one to tell you that that wasn't the greatest of shots or the greatest decision. We're striving to make better decisions more often as a team, and if we do that then we won't have as many soft dismissals."
Klusener also reiterated the need for Zimbabwe to play more long-form cricket in order to push for future success. This is Zimbabwe's second Test this year, and just their sixth Test in the last three years.
"I'd like to see us playing more Test cricket," he said. "It's not an excuse, but it is important. Our one-day cricket has been excellent, but we need to play more Test matches. The more we play and the more we get an opportunity to apply our plans, the better we'll get. It's about quality match-time, more Test matches, spending time in the middle.
"We've come a long way in terms of playing spin, we've come a long way as a team. But it is international cricket, and it's important that players do stand up and score a gutsy fifty or a hundred, whatever we need. So that's the frustration the boys are feeling. They're not proud of the way they played, but we've done a lot of work and we can play better. And we will play better."