India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni says an under-performing middle-order was one of the main reasons for his team's pathetic show against South Africa, where the home fast bowlers have ruled the roost.
After being reduced to 34 for four, India were bowled out for 146 in 35.1 overs, chasing 281 runs in the second One-dayer. No batsman crossed the 40-run mark.
"In the last few series our middle order, to some extent, was a bit of a bother. In this series we lost the top three quite early and our middle order was exposed. So if you assess, then that's maybe why we haven't been able to perform to our potential," he said.
Dhoni said he was surprised that Indian batsmen could take advantage of a flat track.
"The wicket was on the flatter side and there wasn't much for the fast bowlers in it, so I am disappointed with the batting. The kind of shots we played, well, few of them were on. But the shot execution was not great to some extent, as they went to the fielders," he said.
Dhoni though expressed his pleasure about the bowlers' performance.
"Compared to the last game, our bowling did a fantastic job especially in the middle orders. Spinners bowled well and so did the fast bowlers when they came back on, in the latter stages of the South African innings. I am happy with the bowlers' performance because 280 runs on this pitch was a decent score."
South Africa were put into bat by Dhoni and while his bowlers eventually finished on top, early on they were once again defied by Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla, with the opening duo putting up 194 runs for the first wicket and smacking a hundred each in doing so.
"They have done really well for South Africa. They did so in the last series as well (versus Pakistan). The way they were batting in the first 20 overs, I thought this may be another 300-plus run chase but we came back into the game.