Pakistan coach hits out at pitch after another day of toil against South Africa

Former Proteas coach Arthur is not a happy man having seen his side suffer on day two in Cape Town. (AFP)
Updated 04 January 2019
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Pakistan coach hits out at pitch after another day of toil against South Africa

  • Proteas build a commanding first-innings lead at Newlands.
  • Arthur not happy with state of the wicket in first two matches.

CAPE TOWN: Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur criticized the pitches for the first two Tests against South Africa, saying they were not good enough for Test cricket.
With his team facing a series defeat after two days of the second Test at Newlands, Arthur said the quality of pitches had deteriorated in the ten years since he coached the South African team.
On the back of a century by captain Faf du Plessis, South Africa built a winning position, reaching 382 for six, a first innings lead of 205 runs. Du Plessis made a patient 103 and shared a fifth wicket stand of 156 with Temba Bavuma (75). Quinton de Kock made a breezy 55 not out late in the day to reinforce South Africa’s dominance.
Arthur acknowledged that the South African total did not back up his argument about the quality of the pitches but said he did not believe the pitches made for a fair contest.
“I am disappointed. I haven’t been back to South Africa in a cricketing capacity since 2010. The standard of the wickets at Centurion and here hasn’t been good enough for Test cricket,” he said.
He cited inconsistent bounce, with balls rearing out of cracks, which had led to seven stoppages for injuries to batsmen on Friday.
“I can understand it if it gets to day four or five because that’s what happens in Test cricket and so it should, but it shouldn’t make your first innings a lottery.”
Arthur said Du Plessis and Bavuma deserved credit for the way they had batted in the conditions and added that the extra pace of the South African bowlers had been a big factor in Pakistan being bowled out for 177 on the first day.
“The difference is that South Africa bowled at 145 (kilometers an hour) plus and we were at 135 today. Those 10 kilometers on a wicket like this make a significant difference.”
Bavuma said batting conditions had been “challenging and tricky but not impossible.”
He added: “You’ve got to make peace with the fact that you’re going to take a few (balls) on the body.”
Bavuma appeared to have been caught by Azhar Ali at first slip off Mohammad Abbas when he was on three. The on-field umpires gave a “soft” signal of “out” but asked for television umpire Sundaram Ravi to check whether there had been a clean catch. Ravi decided the ball had made contact with the ground while the catch was being taken.
“I wasn’t 100 percent sure, which I was why I stood at the time,” said Bavuma.
The incident was similar to one at a critical stage of the first Test in Centurion, also involving Azhar Ali, when Dean Elgar survived against Shaheen Shah Afridi after Wilson reversed the on-field decision.
Arthur was fined a demerit point after going into the match referee’s room and criticizing Wilson at Centurion but he said Azhar himself had not been sure whether he had made a clean catch. “It was different from last week,” said Arthur.
Du Plessis, out for a pair during South Africa’s six-wicket win in the first Test in Centurion, showed patience and resolve in an innings lasting six minutes short of six hours. He faced 226 balls and hit 13 fours.
He gave a chance on 96 when Sarfraz Ahmed, the Pakistan captain and wicketkeeper, could not hold a faint glance down the leg side off Abbas.
Abbas bowled a probing line and length but had a largely luckless day, as did Mohammad Amir, who went past the edge of Du Plessis’ bat on several occasions.
Bavuma, who hit a solitary Test century against England three seasons ago, made his 13th half-century before being caught behind off left-armer Afridi, bowling around the wicket. Bavuma faced 162 balls and hit ten fours.
Afridi was the most expensive of the Pakistan bowlers, conceding 112 runs, but he picked up three of the four wickets that fell during the day, including that of Du Plessis on review after umpire Wilson failed to detect a faint edge.


Juan Antonio Pizzi tells Saudi Arabia to improve or forget about beating Japan

Updated 44 min 16 sec ago
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Juan Antonio Pizzi tells Saudi Arabia to improve or forget about beating Japan

  • Green Falcons face tough route to final starting with Japan in the second round on Monday.
  • Coach warns players they have no chance of ultimate glory unless they go up a gear in the UAE.

LONDON: Juan Antonio Pizzi has told his Green Falcons they will have to learn the lessons of their defeat to Qatar if they are to have a chance of beating Japan in the second round.
Pizzi’s players went into the Group E clash already assured of a place in the knockout stages, having beaten North Korea and Lebanon in their first two marches. But the prospect of topping the pool and avoiding four-time champions Japan was still motivation enough to avoid temptation to treat the Qatar match as a dead rubber.
In a lackluster performance — a marked contrast to the energy and creativity of their first two matches — the Green Falcons failed to impose themselves in the game and paid the price when two Almoez Ali goals gave the win and points to Qatar.
That left Pizzi annoyed, warning his players they cannot afford to make the same mistakes against Japan.
“We tried to impose our style of play on Qatar, but our finishing and our ability to make the right decisions at crucial moments were not there tonight,” Pizzi said.
“We were good in the first 30 minutes, but an individual error for the first goal and then another mistake from a set-piece saw us concede twice.
“I am just starting to think of the game versus Japan. As I have stated before, I respect all of the teams that are here and do not feel either superior or inferior to anyone.
“It is now important for us to learn from the mistakes we made against Qatar and perform better when we play Japan.”
The first rule of any tournament is to get through to the knockout stages. That Saudi Arabia have managed that, having failed in the 2011 and 2015 editions, is a success. Add to that the fact they qualified for their first World Cup in 12 years last year, and it is clear that Pizzi’s team is still one on the up.
If there is a positive to take out of the Qatar defeat it is that the side’s first poor performance in the tournament came in a group match having already made it through, rather than in a winner-takes-all encounter such as the one they face against the Blue Samurai in Sharjah on Monday.
“We will bounce back. I don’t feel that we are not as good as (Japan) in any way,” Pizzi said.