Having bowled impressively to keep their opponents to 234 for nine, they seemingly mis-judged their chase completely, letting the run-rate spiral out of control before losing a flurry of wickets attempting to rectify the situation.
Misbah top-scored with 55, but even he was guilty of too much conservatism, only upping the scoring rate when it appeared to be too late.
But he pulled no punches in a candid post-match assessment.
"The positive was the bowling, really we bowled very well, and the fielding is really improving, but as a batting unit you can say it's totally lost," Misbah said.
"It's the application of the batsmen. They are not applying themselves. It has been a really disappointing two games because the team could not score more than 170 on what looks like an Asian pitch.
"It is not working. The responsibility is with the players."
Pakistan enjoyed the raucous support of a one-sided 24,000 crowd at Edgbaston, but as they surrendered late in the day there was a smattering of boos to be heard.
But Misbah was phlegmatic in the face of such criticism. "Supporters are like that. This is how things are," he said.
"When you perform well everybody appreciates you; when you do this sort of performance they have the right [to boo]."
Hashim Amla showed the kind of application Misbah craved in his side, top-scoring for South Africa with 81 and taking home the man-of-the-match award as a result.
He conceded that the Proteas came into the game under a cloud having been lost their opener against West Indies and suffered injuries to key men Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel, but was heartened by the response.
"After that first defeat, in this kind of competition you are pretty much under pressure to win the next two," Amla said.
"Fortunately we managed to get on the board today. That's the way the game goes, it's a fickle game. We didn't have Dale and Morne and any bowling attack without those guys would miss them. We know Jacques Kallis and Graeme Smith are not here too but it's water under the bridge for us.
"We have new guys in the team and a new energy. A victory like this boosts everybody."
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