Sri Lanka v India, tri-series, 5th ODI, Dambulla August 22, 2010

India's concerns shift to batting

India's bowling was the talking point during the Tests but the focus has turned to their weaknesses with the bat after two capitulations

During the Test series against Sri Lanka, there was plenty of talk about India's lack of back-up bowlers. In the tri-series, after folding twice without a fight, the focus is on the batting frailties.

The Indian team might point to some dodgy decisions - the umpire could have gone either way on Virender Sehwag's lbw, Dinesh Karthik and Suresh Raina didn't look to have nicked deliveries to the keeper, and Yuvraj Singh's vigil ended after being given out when struck well outside off while playing a shot - but there were still plenty of worrying signs.

It was by no means a treacherous pitch, certainly not one in which a top side should struggle to reach triple-digits. There was no dramatic swing around after the first few overs, yet all batsmen barring Yuvraj and to an extent Sehwag, struggled to middle the ball.

Karthik had a troubling time once his usual ploy of walking down the track was stifled by Kumar Sangakkara standing up to the stumps. He was searching for the ball outside off, beaten several times by Nuwan Kulasekara's mix of incutters and straighter ones.

Rohit Sharma's forgettable tournament continued after another unconvincing effort. The bulk of his runs came off two mishits - a leading edge for four through cover when he was aiming for midwicket, and a lofted miscue in front of point for a boundary when the intended target was extra cover. In the ninth over, he was looking to leave a delivery from Lasith Malinga outside off but was too late in withdrawing the bat, and the ball rolled off it towards backward point. An Angelo Mathews inswinger ended his stay, hitting him on the pads in front of middle.

Suresh Raina had a on-one-knee cover drive all along the ground that made you think a substantial stand was coming up between him and Yuvraj, but he too barely lasted. MS Dhoni usually likes to get going with a bunch of safe singles but there weren't any on Sunday, just a pair of streaky boundaries before giving Sangakkara his third catch of the innings. The overall effort raises questions about the middle-order's resilience, and its firefighting skills.

Another point to ponder for the management is whether No. 7 is too high a spot for Ravindra Jadeja, who again failed with the bat, and hasn't shown the ability to consistently either finish matches from that position or assist in rescue missions.

The one plus for India was the batting of the fit-again Yuvraj, a crucial component of the Indian middle order. He got going with an array of effortless off-drives, but once the wickets tumbled he switched to graft mode, making only two runs in 30 deliveries during one phase. After eight wickets were down, he started to show the flamboyant hitting with which he made his name including a breathtaking six over long-off, before he was adjudged lbw when attempting an outrageous shot towards square leg.

Asked about the umpiring decisions and their impact on the match, Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara made his oft-repeated demand for the umpire-decision review system. "If everything has to be fair, use technology and make it even," Sangakkara said. "ICC should make technology compulsory because if some sides are using it and some series we are playing without it, I don't think that's right, everyone should use technology."

Dhoni offered no excuses for the defeat, praising the Sri Lankan bowlers for their accuracy. "We didn't get the kind of start we needed," he said. "Their bowlers bowled in the right channels, and pushed us into making the mistakes."

About the only thing which went right for Dhoni was that he won the toss for the first time on the tour, something which he has repeatedly said is crucial in Dambulla. It wasn't of much help on Sunday.

Siddarth Ravindran is a sub-editor at Cricinfo