Proteas captain Quinton de Kock has opted to focus on his team’s first-innings batting collapse as the root cause of their seven-wicket loss to Pakistan in the first Test in Karachi on Friday.
Having been able to bat first after winning the toss, South Africa could only post 220 all out as they collapsed from 108 for two.
The bowlers fought back admirably to reduce Pakistan to 33 for four at the end of the first day, but excellent batting, led by centurion Fawad Alam, saw the home side reach 308 for eight at stumps on the second day, with the Proteas dropping a couple of crucial catches in a generally poor fielding display.
A woeful bowling performance on the third morning saw Pakistan’s tail add 70 runs off 74 balls and the Proteas had a deficit of 158 on first innings.
Gutsy half-centuries by Aiden Markram and Rassie van der Dussen brought them back into the match, but South Africa lost three wickets in the last five overs of the day. That collapse continued on Friday as they were bowled out for 245, losing their last nine wickets for 70 runs.
Pakistan knocked off their target of 88 with few alarms.
“The first-innings batting was the big cause of our loss. There were some very soft dismissals, just being soft mentally,” De Kock said after the defeat.
“We adjusted in the second innings and we learnt a lot through Rassie and Aiden to take forward. The bowlers did really well, they showed great aggression and accuracy, but Pakistan just batted very well against us. But only getting 220 in the first innings was where we let ourselves down the most.
“We’ve spoken about the collapses, but if we knew how to fix it we wouldn’t do it in the first place. We seem to get bogged down and then try and find a way to score. But Pakistan showed us that you needed to stick in there and dig deep with the way the pitch played, like Rassie and Aiden did in our second innings.”
While Pakistan were boosted by top-class leg-spinner Yasir Shah having a fine game with seven wickets, South Africa’s plan to power up their spin attack with the selection of a left-arm wrist-spinner in Tabraiz Shamsi was scuppered when he pulled out shortly before the toss with a back spasm.
While Pakistan’s left-arm spinner Nauman Ali took seven for 73 in 42.3 overs on debut, Keshav Maharaj had to settle for four for 102 in 34.1 overs, while George Linde only played a bit part with 16 wicketless overs.
De Kock refused to say the spin bowling results made the difference.
“It wasn’t really the bowlers’ fault we lost, the batting made the difference, the way we played their spin in the first innings and the latter stages of the second innings,” De Kock said.
“We’ll just have to come back mentally stronger in the second Test, our batsmen must play the way Rassie and Aiden did – they took their time, kept the ball on the ground and soaked up pressure.”