Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni blasted his top-order batsmen for their spineless show after India slumped to a humiliating innings and 54-run defeat against England in the fourth Test in Manchester.
The loss was set up on the opening day itself, when electing to bat under overcast conditions, India were reduced to eight for four and were eventually bowled out for 152. The Indian batsmen didn't fare any better in the second innings as they were bowled out for 161 runs, this time in better batting conditions.
"It is important to put runs on the board. The number 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 batsmen have masked the top-order so far in this series," Dhoni said at the post-match press conference as the match ended inside three days on Saturday.
"The win at Lord's also helped camouflage the poor form of the top-order and we couldn't question them that they are not scoring any runs. Our fifth bowler has scored more runs than our top-order batsmen," a livid Dhoni said.
While man-of-the-match Stuart Broad (6/25) was the tormentor in the first innings, it was England off-spinner Moeen Ali (4/39), who broke India's back in the second innings. Dhoni was all praise for the English bowling.
"On this wicket, England bowled very well. The first hour of the match was very crucial. The batting department has to improve and the top five to six batsmen have to get more runs. This defeat will hurt us," he said.
Getting behind a lead of 215 runs with more than two days to bat out, the Indian batting fell like a pack of cards in the final session of the third day's play.
"We don't know what was going to happen tomorrow or day after. The important thing was to play out the day today," said Dhoni commenting on the weather forecast.
The skipper said it was time that Indian batsmen start batting responsibly and convert the good starts into big ones.
"Most of the batsmen have played cricket for a long time and have enough experience to know the match conditions. So they can see that they have to play out sessions accordingly. Sixty overs is a very big target, you can only plan ahead for 3-4 overs at the maximum. That is your target and that's the spell bowlers go through as well.
"Most of the batsmen have gone through good spells, they have got starts and they are able to see off the most difficult phase. But they haven't been able to convert those starts. They need to start converting those starts," he said.