ISLAMABAD – Coward captaincy, sloppy fielding and irresponsible batting led Pakistan to first One-day International defeat against South Africa at Bloemfontein. Pakistan skipper Misbahul Haq’s decision of opting bowling first after winning the toss surprised everybody, reasons best known to either him or the team management, as there was hardly any moisture in the pitch to help bowlers and Pakistanis are infamous for chasing even relatively small targets. With only three regular bowlers in the playing XI, it was a big blunders committed by skipper. And when South Africa managed to post 315 runs on the board, Pakistan had already lost the half of the match, since it was an impossible target to chase while batting second. Pakistan team management decided to play the most important fixture with just three regular bowlers, with two seamers and only one spinner Saeed Ajmal and rest was left on the shoulders of Afridi, Hafeez and Shoaib Malik to carry the burden. It was a very shocking and surprising selection of players as coach totally ignored the fact that South African tracks are best suited to fast bowlers. On the other hand, Proteas went into the match with four front line fast bowlers. Pakistan bowlers looked ordinary throughout the match as African batsmen put them into mess as they hit the ball with their will to all corners of the ground. Junaid and Umar Gul looked completely out of touch as they conceded 127 runs in 19 overs without taking a single wicket. Saeed was at his usual best and Hafeez also helped him a lot but Afridi and Shoaib Malik proved too costly. Pakistan ground fielding and above all catching was so poor, as green shirts kept on dropping catches regularly. Even Hafeez dropped a simple catch. Pakistani players have to realise that they are not club cricketers but they are professionals and fans expect a lot from them. Now, there is no place for Younus Khan and Asad Shafiq in Pakistan side in ODIs. If the selectors want to continue with Asad, they have to send him at No 3, otherwise he is of no use since he wasted too many deliveries in the middle of the innings. The only plus point of Pakistan’s dismal batting was the return of Shahid Afridi’s form as he played with confidence and hit the bowlers well. Nasir Jamshed, Hafeez, Younus, Asad and Kamran Akmal were all flopped with willow while Kamran failed to score significant runs. In fact, his wicketkeeping has also become very ordinary so he must have to keep board running quickly if he wants a place in the squad. What was the purpose of going into the match with eight batsmen, when the desired results are not achieved? One thing was very evident with the body language that all was not well in the dressing room. Players are not performing according to their abilities. It seems it is a planned move to get rid of the current ODI and Test skipper Misbah and appoint M Hafeez as captain of all the three formats of the game. Hafeez is not performing under Misbah at all, but when it comes to his captaincy in the Twenty20s, he is a completely different guy altogether.Pakistan head coach Dave Whatmore failed to bring that consistency which was required from him as Pakistanis always give mixed performances. After his appointment, it was believed that he would use his experience of coaching at the highest level to transform Pakistan into a winning unit and players would play according to their abilities, but so far after a long span of time, Whatmore could not bring anything extraordinary. Another key factor which should not be ignored is that of fielding coach Julian Fountain, who despite getting hefty amount every month, is a complete flop. Sometimes players looked at their best but same players on numerous occasions let down not only themselves but also entire team by dropping simple catches and poor fielding. Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) presents deficit budget every year, keeping in mind the fact there is hardly any international cricket coming their way. It is moral duty of PCB chairman Chaudhry Zaka Ashraf to control expenditures by firing Julian Fountain and M Akram without further delay and hire local reputed fielding and bowling coaches. All is not lost yet and Pakistan can force their way back into the series and they are more than capable of beating not only the South Africans but any top side of the world and that too at their own backyards. The only need of the hour is to select a well-balanced squad and players must perform as a unit by putting aside all differences.