ISLAMABAD – AB De Villiers led from the front to sink Pakistan in the fifth and final ODI at Benoni to win the 5-match series 3-2. It was Ab’s third half century besides a century in 5-match series, although he remained very fortunate as had been given two clear-cut chances by Pakistani fielders.

De Villiers' average 50.38 is the third highest among batsmen with 5000-plus ODI runs. He is one of the two batsmen (Viv Richards) in the group to boast an average greater than 40 and a strike rate (93.12) greater than 90. It was a tailor-made situation for green caps to win the series for the very first time against Proteas and that too at their own backyard but poor batting, coward captaincy and lethargic fielding led to the downfall of the green caps.

Misbah had done well by opting to bat first but Hafeez and Imran Farhat failed to live up to the occasion as Pakistan kept on losing wickets on regular intervals, Kamran Akmal after a very long time looked like the player he was considered for. If Kamran can’t score with the bat then there is no place for him in the playing XI as his wicket keeping is going from bad to worse after each passing day. He failed to collect even simple catches and missed too many relatively easy stumping chances.

The time is ripe after such a poor showing for Pakistan Cricket Board to take some bold decisions and show the door to at least 5 players including Misbah, Younus, Afridi, Kamran Akmal and Imran Farhat. In fact, Imran and Afridi had played too many matches without any major contributions with the exception of one or two innings and that too in parts. It is quite unfortunate that Umar Akmal is born in this part of the world, where the decision makers fail to recognise this genuine talent. Had he born in some other cricket playing nations, he could have occupied a regular spot in all the three formats of the game.

If selectors don’t want to give him chance to show case his abilities then why they select him in the touring squad. It is true Umar Akmal could not fully show his talent and sometimes rash shots or poor judgment led him to his dismissal, but he is a kind of a player who could easily turn the entire situation of the match and that too within few overs.

Pakistan batting flopped miserably in the entire tour. Though some individual performances were witnessed but the factual position is that almost all batsmen remained fail to carry out momentum on regular basis. Bowling and fielding coaches also failed to justify their positions. Only Muhammad Irfan and to some extent Junaid Khan performed well with the leather. Otherwise, all other bowlers including world leading off spin wizard Saeed Ajmal failed to live up to the expectations.

Muhammad Irfan, no doubt, was the discovery of the series and he looked way a head from the rest of the pack. Umar Gul has well passed his best and selectors must sit and find afresh talent. It is sheer negligence on the part of PCB think tank, who despite having an army of directors failed to notice tall and lanky M. Irfan during his early days. Had PCB think0-tank spotted him earlier in his career, Irfan could have by now turned into a world class bowler, with perfect fitness and a sign of great terror for all the opposite teams.

Afirdi had also set two new records, first he became the first batsmen to be out on ducks for 30 times in his ODI career and secondly he failed to pick a single wicket in the 50 overs he had bowled. Afridi had played more than 400 One Day Internationals, but despite playing so many matches, he has still not learnt a simple thing that one can’t hit every ball out of park, runs would certainly come if one stays at the crease, but who can teach him this simple lesson.

M. Hafeez is aspiring to become the national team ODI skipper but he lacks consistent performance. Instead of lobbying to become skipper, Hafeez should concentrate on improving his performances. Pakistan should have at least scored 250 runs, but all the batsmen played irresponsible strokes, despite getting good starts. All batsmen failed to even score a half century in the match. South Africa closed the series largely due to Pakistan's inability to do the same, rather than being dominant. Apart from de Villiers' knock, the game changed in the space of four balls in the Pakistan innings when Shoaib Malik and Shahid Afridi both succumbed softly in the 35th over bowled by McLaren and abandoned the captain and lower order to nothing more than hope.

Malik and Afridi were guilty of poor shot selection, they undid the work done by the batsmen before and left the lower order to do too much. They also did little justice to Pakistan's initial recovery after they found themselves in early trouble at 31 for 2 inside the first 10 overs.

Dale Steyn removed Mohammad Hafeez for the sixth time on this tour to take his 100th ODI wicket. What Afridi did was even worse. He saw off two balls before picking the right one to pull but he singled out the fielder at deep square leg as well. With that Pakistan’s all hopes of reaching a competitive target ended and they were bundled out for a meager 205 in 49.1 overs.

Importantly, AB de Villiers seemed to settle in his treble role as captain, senior batsman and permanent wicket keeper that may be the most valuable thing South Africa takes from their series win. They would also take heart from being able to triumph in a must-win situation, on the other hand Pakistan could not do the same. Since 2002, Pakistan failed to win a deciding match in an ODI series and have never beaten South Africa in a bilateral ODI series. South Africa's win is seventh in eight ODIs in Benoni, with their only loss at the venue came against Sri Lanka in 2002 by seven wickets.