‘We are in a good position now’, says Graeme Smith

Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo

“We’ve got to come out tomorrow and work ourselves into a position where we feel we can win the game”

South Africa captain Graeme Smith, who recorded his fifth double century today, believes that the Proteas “are in a good position” to beat Pakistan and win the second Test in Dubai.

Smith and AB de Villiers registered an unbeaten 326-run partnership as Pakistan were completely humiliated in front of their home fans for a second consecutive day.

“Ideally we want to bat once and allow the wicket to deteriorate a little more,” Smith said. “It’s pretty dry at the moment.

“The goal for today was to get ourselves into a winning position. Our innings was still in the balance when Dale went. But then the way AB transferred pressure made my life easier and we are in a good position now. We’ve got to come out tomorrow and work ourselves into a position where we feel we can win the game.”

Despite South Africa already having accumulated a lead of 361 runs, Pakistan bowling coach Mohammad Akram believes that his side can still win the match.

“Winning the toss and batting first showed we were confident this was a batting pitch and will play very well for the next three days,” Akram said. “The batsmen are optimistic they are can apply themselves as and bat for as long as possible in the next innings.”

However, Akram was at a loss for words to explain the dramatic turnaround Pakistan had experienced from the first Test in Abu Dhabi, which they won by seven wickets.

“That has been the case for a long time and we do accept that,” he said. “We are working on a lot of things and trying to overcome it but at the moment, that’s how it is.”

Akram also pointed out that pace bowler Mohammad Irfan was the pick of the bowlers for the day since he was the only one to pick up a wicket, even if it was the nightwatchman Dale Steyn.

“The bowlers tried their best, especially Mohammad Irfan,” he said.

Irfan was unlucky not to get his second wicket as de Villiers, who is currently undefeated on 157 runs, edged the very first ball he faced to Adnan Akmal behind the stumps, who dropped it.

“When AB de Villiers is dropped, he makes you pay,” Akram said. “It’s very difficult to stop his runs on a batting wicket.”

Akram also dismissed speculation that Pakistan had over-relied on spinner Saeed Ajmal during the first Test.

“In Abu Dhabi, it wasn’t only Saeed Ajmal, everybody chipped in,” he said. “The wicket was really good and both the players who were batting there are great cricketers.”

Smith stated that he was ecstatic to see the huge progress his side had made since only managing to score 249 in the first innings of the first Test.

“We had to improve from there,” he said. “90% of the time this batting line-up produces the goods.

“I felt we were a little soft in Abu Dhabi but we’ve had some good chats, worked on a few things like reverse swing and it paid off.”

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