Sarfraz Ahmed, the Pakistan captain, admitted morale dropped in the side after the loss in the first Test in Centurion, but said the tough talk from the coach and the support staff was just what they needed to get them ready for the second Test at Newlands.
The Pakistan batting crumbled in the Boxing Day Test – and not for the first time in recent months. Mickey Arthur, the coach, reportedly ticked off the middle order, especially the senior players, and Grant Flower, the batting coach, later told reporters that a few batsmen were under threat of being dropped.
However, the batsmen appear to have got another chance, with Ahmed announcing on Wednesday, 2 January, the eve of the second Test, that Pakistan would stick to the same batting line-up.
“Definitely, after the defeat at Centurion the morale was very low,” Ahmed said. “Sometimes you need hard talk. And, after that talk, our team’s morale is very high.”
Insisting that the batsmen were hard at work, he said, “When Asian teams come to South Africa, it’s very challenging. We’re used to playing on low-bounce pitches, but when we come to Australia, South Africa and New Zealand, every Asian player struggles.
“But those players who are good enough, like many of ours, make it work. Our batting coach talks to the players so hopefully we will get better.”
Where the batsmen struggle, the pace bowlers enjoy the conditions on offer. Pakistan will be boosted by the availability of Mohammad Abbas, who has been their pace spearhead in recent times.
“It’s not just Abbas, every fast bowler will like bowling here because the way they prepare the pitches here at the moment. If you see the Centurion pitch, every fast bowler likes that kind of pitch,” said the captain. “I know this is [Vernon] Philander’s hometown, so he will enjoy bowling here. Hopefully, Abbas will also enjoy himself.”