DUBAI - Pakistan coach Dav Whatmore drew on bitter personal experience to warn his players that world number one Test team South Africa can bounce back in the second Test starting in Dubai on Wednesday. Pakistan won the first Test in Abu Dhabi by seven wickets on Thursday, but Whatmore recalled a personal experience of South Africa's resilience when he was the coach of Sri Lanka in 2000/2001.
"This South African unit is quite resilient," said 59-year-old Whatmore on Sunday. "I've had first hand experience in Sri Lanka where they lost by an innings in Galle and came back to win in Kandy," said Whatmore of the series in Sri Lanka. "I think there was a drawn game in Colombo so it was 1-1 in the series, so you leave them off at your peril."
South Africa's unbeaten series run away from home since losing to Sri Lanka in 2006 is also under threat and Whatmore, born in Sri Lanka but who emigrated with his family aged eight, said Pakistan will do their best to win. "Well 1-0 is just as good as I think because a hard fought draw is also very important for any team, having been 1-0 up in the series, but we enter the game to win," said Whatmore, whose team lost to Zimbabwe in the second Test in a 1-1 drawn series last month.
Pakistan have an incentive of jumping to fourth from sixth in the Test rankings if they win or square the series. Whatmore, who played seven Tests and one limited overs international for Australia, refused to agree that Pakistan's win was an upset. "I wasn't surprised we did well, people leading up to this series in Pakistan were alluding to the fact that we lost against Zimbabwe and here you are going to play the No. 1 team in the world, no chance.
"But that was never the case, in my mind I knew that we can be competitive." Whatmore, who coached Sri Lanka to the 1996 World Cup title, said different conditions and of some personnel, especially in the top order, paid off. "I've alway said we're better prepared against this opposition than we were the last time we played them in South Africa notwithstanding their number one ranking," said Whatmore of Pakistan's 3-0 humiliation earlier this year.
"That conditions are different that's pretty obvious and we've had a slight change of personnel in the eleven I think it's a combination of those reasons that gave us a good competitive effort over four days," said Whatmore. Pakistan played debutant opener Shan Masood who put on 135 runs for the opening stand in Abu Dhabi. Masood, who replaced experienced but out of form Mohammad Hafeez, hit 75 in the first innings to help Pakistan gain a big 193-run lead.
South Africa then slumped to 232 in their second innings which gave Pakistan a 40-run target to win. South African coach Russell Domingo blamed poor batting in the first innings, folded at 249. "That's why we lost the Test, we couldn't stretch our first innings because if you look at the stats in Dubai and Abu Dhabi the first innings sets the game, so a lot of questions can be asked of the bowlers but it was ultimately the batters who let us down," said Domingo, who took over from Gary Kirsten in June this year.
Domingo hoped his team would execute the match strategy better.
"Look, the South African side play a certain way over a period of time and we know we were outplayed and we know we need to improve, the plans won't change massively but we need to execute them a lot better," said the coach.
"It's never ideal to start your Test coaching career with a loss but that's happened, its easy to just win, win and win, but that's the challenge that you are looking forward to take on," said Domingo. After the two Tests, both the teams will also play five one-day and two Twenty20 internationals.