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We Were Outplayed - Graeme Smith

South Africa Test captain Graeme Smith
Graeme Smith played his first Test since undergoing ankle surgery in Abu Dhabi but couldn't mark his return with a win
©REUTERS / Action Images

South Africa captain Graeme Smith admits that his team were outplayed by Pakistan as they slipped to their first Test defeat in almost two years in Abu Dhabi.

The Proteas' unbroken run stretched back to January 2011, since when they had taken 10 wins and five draws but they were outplayed in all departments by Pakistan, the victors by seven wickets.

Aside from Hashim Amla's century on the opening day, and half-centuries from AB de Villiers and JP Duminy, South Africa struggled to gain any foothold in the game and Smith's return after a long spell out with an ankle injury was a disappointing one.

"Every time you come to the sub-continent as a Western nation you always have a degree of stress," Smith said at the press conference following the game.

"Pakistan have played well in these conditions of late, I have to say that they have outplayed us, so it’s very disappointing.

"We are hurting. The team has too much ability to make this a habit.

"Teams can play well, you do lose, that’s natural in sport but the standards that we set for ourselves means that we should have the ability to bounce back."

He was quick to play down the suggestion that his side's preparation - one game against Pakistan 'A' and 10 days in the United Arab Emirates - left them unready for the challenge.

"I think we have maximised the preparation time that we have had. It’s always difficult to replicate Test matches when you haven't played one in six months.

"We came together after the Champions League and the guys have worked extremely hard and always knew this would be a tough tour after a long lay-off."

One of the only positives to come out of the final stages of the Test match was the new-ball spell bowled by Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander, which ripped out Pakistan's top three batsmen in 21 deliveries before they reached their target of 40.

"The positive is that we were better with the new-ball today than we were in Pakistan's first innings," Smith said.

"That is a big step in the right direction. After the strong opening partnership they had in the first innings it was nice to get things right."

Getting things right will be what they aim to do in Dubai, where the second Test begins on 23rd October. Before that, however, an optional training session is scheduled for tomorrow (Friday) as they start working on how to get back into the series.

© Cricket World 2013