Cape Town – Anxiety by their middle order caused Pakistan to collapse in their second innings and give South Africa an unassailable 2-0 lead in the Test series, said captain Misbah-ul-Huq in Cape Town on Sunday.
“Test cricket is all about sticking to the basics and spending time at the crease,” Misbah said after his team’s four-wicket defeat on Sunday.
“When Robin Peterson was bowling over the stumps and into the rough, we panicked to score runs and made mistakes against him.
“So we need to address those things and try and form partnerships and bat like Test cricketers. We have to do that in the coming Test match.”
Misbah said despite having conceded the series, every match was equally important and they would put their losses behind them and focus solely on the third Test.
“We know we’re playing the No 1 Test team in the world, in their own conditions, so we have to just take it game by game,” he said.
“We must try and win the next game and try and put on a better show. That’s the only thing we can do.”
Despite the Test finishing inside of four days, Misbah was proud of the team’s progress since the first match.
He said Younus Khan and Asad Shafiq had shown initiative, each scoring hundreds and sharing a double-century partnership in the first innings of the second Test, to help Pakistan post a total of 338.
“Younus and Shafiq gave us a big advantage and then Saeed Ajmal really gave us a chance in this match,” Misbah said.
“But Peterson’s innings and our second innings collapse meant we couldn’t manage to win this.”
After a disastrous start, Misbah and Azhar Ali shared a crucial fourth-wicket stand of 69 but the captain admitted his own dismissal, on Sunday morning, was the start of his team’s downfall after they had been in a fairly strong position overnight.
“After I went out, the batting collapsed and that was a time when we should have just carried on,” he said.
“You could say that was the turning point of the game for us.”
Ajmal once again proved to be a revelation, taking 10/147 in the match, but the Pakistani bowlers were unable to apply pressure from the other side.
“Ajmal is a world class bowler and he proved that again today against the top batsmen in the world,” the Pakistan captain said.
“He took 10 wickets against South Africa, in South Africa, and that is a big achievement.
“We tried different things but none of the other bowlers could create pressure from the other end. Runs were just flying and, in the end, South Africa finished it off so quickly, scoring more than four runs an over.”
Misbah felt sure that if the bowlers had been able to restrict the run flow, pressure would have mounted on the opposing batsmen and they would have still been in the game.
The game changer for South Africa was Robin Peterson’s innings of 84, he said, and it was a vital innings at the time.
Peterson’s partnership with the lower order helped South Africa come close to Pakistan’s 338 in the first innings after the hosts had been in trouble at 167 for six.
“It would have been very different if South Africa were chasing 250 instead of 180 in the final innings,” Misbah said.
While he was critical of his team’s performance, he said Mohammad Irfan, who took three for 86 in the first innings, was an exciting prospect for Pakistan and he had been impressed with the way he handled his debut.
“Irfan bowled well and showed he has potential especially on these bouncy tracks. It’s a big positive for us.”
Misbah hoped left-arm paceman Junaid Khan would be fit for the third and final Test, which starts on Friday. – Sapa