India v Pakistan, 2nd ODI, Kolkata January 3, 2013

Dhoni rues top-order failure

ESPNcricinfo staff

India had their second successive top-order batting collapse but unlike the first ODI in Chennai, where their lower order came to the rescue, Pakistan's bowlers didn't give the hosts a second chance and completed a big win to take the series.

MS Dhoni rued the failure of his batsmen after the bowlers had brought India back into the match. Pakistan had appeared set for a huge total after a 141-run opening stand, but India's bowlers struck regularly in the second half of the innings to limit their target to 251.

India's openers made an edgy start, but were still in the middle by the 10th over and had put up 42 on the board. However, just like the previous game, a wicket opened the floodgates and the team was reduced to 95 for 5 in 26 overs. There were no lower-order stands of note this time and while Dhoni stayed unbeaten, the team was all out for 165.

"Last 30 overs we needed 180, so if you put 100 off 20, then you can get 80-90 off last 10 with five fielders inside the circle," Dhoni said. "But the key is to have wickets in hand and we never were in a position.

"Virat [Kohli] has scored runs for us, but one of the top three needs to play with the middle order, that will make it easy, not that they aren't trying, but it happens."

The batting failures in the two matches have meant that India have neither been able to put up a competitive total nor be in a position to chase one down. Dhoni said there was experience in the batting but all have struggled to find form on tracks that have helped bowlers but also rewarded batsmen who showed patience.

"The bowlers brought us back into the game," Dhoni said. "The spinners in the second half of the first innings bowled well and the faster bowlers made most of the bounce available off the pitch. But when we went into bat, we lost too many wickets."

"Initially there was something for fast bowlers, then it became flat, but there was something for the spinners. There was turn in the first as well as second innings, but after 25th over the ball started doing a bit for the faster bowlers, even with the old ball. So there was everything for everyone. There were runs for batsmen too. It was a good ODI wicket."

Dhoni also conceded that the team was finding it difficult to win matches with part-time bowlers in view of the amended ODI rules which stipulate five fielders inside the circle for full 50 overs.

"We are used to play with part-timers. Now it's difficult for part-timers to bowl with five players inside the circle. If there's dew, then you don't get turn as well. With the new rules, you've to assess whether six batsmen are enough or seven."

"What we're looking at is somebody who can fill in the gap -- a genuine allrounder to bring in the balance in the side. Lower-order contribution is also very important especially when you're chasing."

Misbah-ul-Haq, the Pakistan captain, said a total of 300 was on the cards after the platform Pakistan openers had set but the pitch was not an easy one to score on, especially for new batsmen. He, however, praised the bowling attack for another efficient performance.

"The bowlers are really doing a great job, especially Junaid who is moving it both ways and asking questions of the batsmen," Misbah said. "Irfan has his height, Gul also bowled well today, and Ajmal and Hafeez always deliver for us.

"We have the edge in the quality of our bowling. Indian batsmen are struggling for quite a long time. But I think our bowlers exploited the conditions better. Normally we get flat pitches here in India. But both the pitches - in Chennai and Kolkata - were challenging for batsmen," he said.

Misbah also singled out Nasir Jamshed for special praise and said the batsman has matured well during the tour.