Smith chuffed with Proteas’ comprehensive win

2013-02-04 15:35

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Proteas captain Graeme Smith was pleased with his side as they cruised to victory over Pakistan in the first Test at the Wanderers.

“With the hype going around the test match, it was pretty busy. We always get a bit nervous around milestone games because if things go wrong, people will ask questions but it was nice to come through and be as comprehensive as we did,” Smith said.

AB de Villiers’s performance in the test will go down as one of the best in history, becoming the first wicket keeper in test match history to take 11 dismissals and score a hundred in the same Test.

There has been a lot of speculation about De Villiers’s stint with the gloves considering how he struggled with the bat in England and in the early stages of the Australian tour before coming good in Perth with an epic 169. Smith was effusive in his praise for De Villiers and the way he has fitted into his role.

“His keeping has been outstanding and it is getting better and better. He is solid behind the stumps and his confidence in catching balls and finding his space amongst the slips is growing and growing,” Smith said.

“He was always going to be judged on runs and how that affected him so it was terrific to see him come and get another 100. In his last few tests he has performed better and better which is great for us. With him being a keeper it gives us so many options.”

Smith did reflect on a few facets of the game that did not go well for his team.

“We had a few soft dismissals and for Mohammad Hafeez to pick up four wickets was a little bit soft from our perspective. A score of 250, 260 was decent and we felt we could have pushed on. We were set up at 200/4 and we got a little bit soft that afternoon,” Smith said.

“Day two was going to be a crucial day in this test match and we knew that. We needed to pay that day respect and for us to win all three sessions comprehensively was the mark of this team. When we know we need to step up, there is a performance of the highest standard.

Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq admitted that batting in South Africa was not easy, especially when a team is confronted by an attack as good as South Africa’s.

He hoped that his 127-run partnership with Asad Shafiq, which stalled South Africa’s victory march, gave his team confidence ahead of the second test, which starts on Valentine’s Day in Cape Town.

“It just gives a little bit of confidence to others that it is not something that we cannot do. It is a matter of going there and scoring more runs and getting a bit of courage,” Misbah said.

“I think we have a good batting unit and it is just a matter of applying yourself, getting good starts and capitalising. It’s always difficult coming to South Africa and they are the number one side in the world. They have top bowlers and top batsmen. It’s not easy when you are playing them in their own conditions. It’s a challenge for us and we have to take it and play well.”

Misbah cited a lack of basics as a key reason for Pakistan’s inability to resist the South African bowling for long periods of time.

There were a few positives for Misbah, though, and one of those was Nasir Jamshed’s test debut, which consisted of a composed second innings of 46.

“Nasir has already shown his quality in a few ODI’s and T20’s against some quality opposition and back-to-back centuries against India. He’s a good player with good temperament. He’s showing his maturity and has a good future with Pakistan.”

Pakistan was on the receiving end of excellent pace bowling, but they gave as good as they got, especially in the first innings, where they made sure South Africa had to grind out every run. As fast as man-of-the-match Dale Steyn may be, Misbah reckoned he is not the scariest.

“It is the areas he bowls in that make him special and the kind of swing that he gets that make him very special. When you look at other sides, there might be some other bowlers like Shoaib Akhtar who are scarier.”

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