Pakistan aren't a team alien to collapses, but if Bob Woolmer has to go to
the extent of terming it "the worst batting I've seen in my time as coach"
it must be bad news. Woolmer described Pakistan's collapse as "abject" and
hoped that his team would learn to play on these bowler-friendly pitches.
"It was a very poor batting performance," he said emphatically. "Our
fielding and bowling was excellent - much better than the previous game -
but our batting was abject. It wasn't an easy surface by any stretch of
imagination but our shot selection wasn't very good. If we bat the way we
did today, even the presence of Inzamam-ul-Haq would not have been enough.
A defeat like this is disappointing. We're disappointed for the Pakistan
public. We let them down."
A big factor in this game, though, was a pitch out utterly of character with the
subcontinent - one with appreciable bounce and seam. "Even in South Africa
you don't get too many wickets that go around so much like that," admitted
a pleasantly surprised Graeme Smith at the end of the day. "But it was a
challenge for us; don't under-estimate how hard we had to work to get
there. We needed to graft after we were 42 for 5 and had all the hard work
to do. Even on a track like this we had to bowl the ball in the right
areas. I thought Pakistan did it superbly upfront and we were just
terrific in the field tonight."
The nature of the surface meant that a batsman like Justin Kemp, usually
flamboyant in his strokeplay, had to knuckle down. Kemp admitted that he,
along with the other half-centurion Mark Boucher, were targeting around
160-170 when they'd got their eye in. "When we got a 100, 160 to 180 was
still in our minds," said Kemp. "Batting on that wicket I felt that it [the ball] was going to do more under lights. I thought 213 was enough but we were trying to keep wickets in hand at the death.
Smith's target was even lesser. "There was a stage when I was hoping for
120-150 so when we got past 200, " he continued, "and I was very happy. I
did believe it would be enough but I knew we had to do well. We had to
start well, get a good chunk of the Pakistan batting. If they got off to a
good start it would always be difficult. And then we had Makhaya [Ntini]
who led the bowling attack with Polly [Pollock] complementing him."
Woolmer, though, refused to criticise the surface, focusing his ire at the
batsmen instead. "We thought it was a better pitch than the one we played
against New Zealand," he asserted. "It was skiddy and there was a lot of
seam movement. We need to learn to play on these types of pitches. It is
not temperamental, it's technical. Our players play a lot away from the
body. We had the same problem in Perth which we worked on. When exposed to
a class bowling attack on a wicket which is not just bouncy but actually
seaming and moving around, then most sides get into trouble. Even South
Africa got into trouble."
South Africa's thumping win meant that they topped the group and will now
travel to Jaipur for the second semi-final. Smith, though, had no problem,
though one might have expected that this pitch would have suited them just
fine. "We don't really mind [going to Jaipur]. Obviously everyone's going
to say this wicket suits us more but we've been preparing hard on wickets
that have been low and slow. It was nice to see this wicket - it surprised
us but we have to move to Jaipur and adapt. Adapt has been the keyword on
our trip so far and we've to move and do the same there."