Pakistan bowling coach Azhar Mahmood has admitted that lack of warm-up games in South Africa led to defeat in the three-match ongoing series.
Talking to media after the conclusion of day three in Johannesburg, former all-rounder suggested that result might’ve been different if the Men in Green had more practice matches.
“It is always a tough outing for a sub-continent team to visit South Africa, but, if we had one or two [warm-up] more games before playing the Test matches then it could have been a different ball-game,” said Mahmood.
South Africa completed a 3-0 series clean sweep by winning the third Test by 107 runs at the Wanderers Stadium.
Commenting on the playing condition in South Africa, Mahmood admitted batsmen did not fulfill their responsibility.
“The conditions are tough here,” he said. “We have seen alot of uneven bounce on this tour but I guess we didn’t bat well.”
Mahmood — who has represented Pakistan in 21 Test and 176 One-Day Internationals (ODI) — also praised Proteas wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Kock and veteran Hasim Amla for their efforts that took the game away from Pakistan.
“I think it was our plan to bowl them out cheaply so that we were chasing 270-280 runs but credit to De Kock and Amla as they played really well,” he said. “They left the ball very well, and when they got the opportunities they hit the boundaries as well.”
Bowling coach also appreciated Pakistan batsmen for showing some fight while chasing a mammoth total in the fourth innings.
“If you see, the boys are playing well now,” he said. “Shan and Imam both played well as Asad Shafiq is still out there. In this ground there are a lot of boundary options and you don’t get runs from singles.”
He further said: “If you see for the last three days, everyone took the heavy roller and the pitch has slightly flattened out but the uneven bounce is still there as we saw in the last hour, so that’s the problem here.”
Earlier, Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur said on Monday he was determined to find a solution to his team’s problems against fast, short-pitched bowling.
Speaking after South Africa completed a 3-0 series clean sweep by winning the third Test by 107 runs at the Wanderers Stadium, Arthur said he wanted to build a team able to play in all conditions by the time they started their campaign in the world Test championship in September.
“We play Sri Lanka in the United Arab Emirates in September then we play Australia in Australia straight after that,” said Arthur.
“We have to have our skill sets perfect to manage the bouncing ball. I want to get our batsmen into Australia three or four weeks early, to have camps there to get them ready.”
Arthur singled out Babar Azam, Shan Masood and Asad Shafiq as batsmen who had played well during the series.
“I thought Babar Azam was outstanding, he’s taken his cricket to another level,” Arthur said. “There’s question marks around Babar and I think they’ll disappear now, I thought the way he played this series was amazing.”
He added: “I though Shan Masood played exceptionally well at the top of the order and number three. Asad Shafiq also played two quality innings.”
The Pakistan head coach also gave qualified support to Sarfraz Ahmed, whose captaincy was questioned by Pakistani media.
“This question always arises at the end of a series,” he said. “He wants to lead from the front. I thought his wicketkeeping has been outstanding. What we need is to get a good core of leaders around him. If we can do that he’ll go from strength to strength.”
While answering a question about whether a change of personnel was required in the batting department, Arthur said: “For the moment, the best batsmen in Pakistan are sitting in the dressing room.