Pakistan were chasing 260, the highest score of the series so far, and floundered to another total under 200. After a top-and middle-order collapse, they were struggling at 116 for 7 and could have been dismissed for a total much lower than 191 had it not been for a 61-run stand between Wahab Riaz and Sohail Tanvir for the eighth wicket.
"It's the same old story," Misbah said. "I think we need to think about our batting if we want to save the series. Our batsmen get starts but are not able to convert them into big scores, and we all have to think that 20s and 30s are not going to win matches for us."
In the first ODI in Dubai, Pakistan were chasing a modest 183 and were well in control at 165 for 4 in the 41st over, needing another 19 runs from nine overs. However, Lonwabo Tsotsobe and Imran Tahir didn't let any batsman score in double digits after No. 6 Umar Akmal to make Pakistan fall short by one run.
"I don't have an answer and as professionals when we get set we must take it further," Misbah said. "We need to score at least 250 against a team like South Africa to beat them."
Pakistan have had a troublesome 2013 in ODIs starting from the tour of South Africa and the Champions Trophy in England. They crossed 250 only thrice this year in 12 innings in which they batted first, once against Ireland and twice against Zimbabwe. And only once have they scored more than 300 in 24 ODIs this year.
The fourth ODI will be in Abu Dhabi again, a must-win match for Pakistan, before the series ends in Sharjah on November 11.