Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq sees a weak domestic cricket structure and too much reliance on talent as the reasons for his team's inconsistent performances in international cricket. "When you come through those easy competitions (in domestic cricket) you are going to struggle," Misbah said. "It's a game of concentration. Big bowlers play with your concentration and they make you make mistakes so it comes with a bit of more practice in tough competitions." Pakistan shocked South Africa with a seven-wicket win in the first test by scoring 442 runs in the first innings with opening batsman Khurram Manzoor and Misbah himself scoring centuries. But the form dipped sharply when the same set of batsmen were bundled out for just 99 in the first innings of the second test as the Proteas leveled the series with a crushing innings and 92-run win.
Once Misbah's team-mate in domestic cricket, legspinner Imran Tahir tormented the Pakistan top order claiming 5-32 while playing against his country of birth in a test match for the first time. Not many cricket pundits gave Misbah's team a chance against the world's No.1 test side, especially after lowly-ranked Zimbabwe had leveled the test series 1-1 against Pakistan last month with a victory at Harare. While the new opening pair of Khurram Manzoor and debutante Shan Masood shared a century-stand in the first test, the openers flopped in the next three innings with Manzoor scoring a pair in the second test. "I think you can perform once or twice on talent, but you can't have consistency," Misbah said. "As a Pakistani player ... we have to accept that after one or two good performance we get relaxed. We have to be mentally strong, even if you have scored a double century, you can't live with your one performance." But Misbah backed his struggling openers, who at least shared a century stand after 18 months for Pakistan.
"I don't think we should change the openers," he said. "I as a batsman believe that opening is the toughest job against the top class bowlers, even the top players struggle, they need time to adjust." Saturday's loss was Pakistan's first in 10 test matches in the United Arab Emirates since they adopted this gulf country as its 'home' in 2009 after a terror attack on the visiting Sri Lanka team bus stopped international cricket in Pakistan. And Misbah rued the first session of the first day in the second test when his side slipped to 60-6 against Tahir.
"We are a bit disappointed...one session if we could have reversed that," he said. Misbah said Pakistan needed to quickly forget that bad performance which eventually led to his team's defeat as they prepare for the one-day series against the Proteas, starting. "We don't want these sorts of sessions," he said. "We need more character, more attitude, otherwise ups and downs can really hurt the team."