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THE first Test defeat inside two and a half days against the South Africans warrants urgent rethinking of strategy and regrouping by the Pakistan management and the team itself in order to salvage their fast sinking profile for the rest of the tour.

The repeated batting failures which we had witnessed in the UAE against New Zealand, where Pakistan batsmen failed to reach achievable targets, continues here in South Africa as well and has seen the visitors folding up under 200 in both the innings of the opening Test.

Our batsmen have not been able to reach a score of 200 or over in the past four innings and that truly is a clear indictment on their ability and on their technique to face up to a challenge which at this level is so important if at all some kind of success has to be had.

If dressing room pep-talks by the people who handle the team — which includes the captain, the coach and the trainer — had any impact or influence on the way the team performs, then by now our batsmen would have had plenty to learn. But it is glaringly evident to all of us after witnessing the spineless performance here that on this lot these pep talks have not made any impression whatsoever.

I hear rumours of harsh exchanges in Pakistan team’s dressing room in which coach Mickey Arthur has given the players a piece of his mind. I can tell you by my experience that when a team is on a winning spree nothing tastes sour as does to a team which has been doing badly and losing.

I can believe this that always there is half a truth in rumours which one hears and don’t blame Mickey if at all he told his batsmen to buck up and show some grit to stand up for the task for which they have been the part of the team.

This is common everywhere and with every team when the coach speaks to his charges to buck up their sapping souls in face of defeat.

If I was the coach I would be even harsher for the way Pakistan batsmen handled the South African fast bowlers.

It is not unknown though of the rich and famous to write their own epitaph prior to their death, to be set on their tombstones. The English bard and playwright William Shakespeare did and so as did John Keats the English poet and many more including many men of letters.

The way Pakistan batsmen have been performing recently, they are in a way writing their own epitaph saying, ‘We are Pakistani batsmen and we cannot bat.’ I may sound harsh when I say this but having watched Pakistan batsmen surrender abjectly, this is how I feel about it and this, I would say, will be the common feeling with the fans back home.

To be 100 for 1 in the second innings, which looked so heartening on the second day, and then throw it all away within the next couple of hours is what has made me and others fume in disgust here.

Unfortunately, this result may now set the tone for the rest of the series unless skipper Sarfraz and the others analyse their shortcomings to get back in their right frame of mind and show a brave face rather than resign themselves to destiny.

Published in Dawn, December 29th, 2018