India skipper Virender Sehwag on Monday, said performance of the top-order remains a concern for his team after the hosts slumped to a 16-run defeat against the West Indies in the third cricket one-dayer here.
Chasing a challenging 261 for victory, Rohit Sharma struck a classy 95 but the rest of the Indian top-order lacked firepower to overhaul the target and were ultimately bowled out for 244 in 46.5 overs.
Sharma, whose 100-ball knock was laced with 10 fours and a six, and Ravichandran Ashwin (31 in 64 balls) put on a defiant stand of 91 in 115 balls to keep India in the hunt after a top-order collapse that saw India lose half of their side with only 84 on board by the 16th over.
"The total was ok to chase but we lost couple of early wickets with me and Gautam (Gambhir) getting out back-to-back in the second over. And after that we did not have a good partnership in the top order. If we lose early wickets it is difficult to chase," Sehwag said at the post-match press conference.
"We have to look at our top order. We have to click and fire. We have to give a good start as a team so that we can achieve any target or set any target for the West Indies in the coming games," said Sehwag, who fell for a first ball duck along with his Delhi mate Gambhir.
West Indian speedster Ravi Rampaul, who went on to bag the man-of-the-match award with a haul of four for 57, dismissed the duo off his first two balls.
Sehwag said that he, Gambhir, off-colour Suresh Raina, and Parthiv Patel, who made a quick-fire 39, need to pull up their socks in the remaining two ODIs.
"It is not only (Suresh) Raina who is not scoring runs. It is myself, Parthiv (Patel) and Gautam who are not scoring runs. Only Rohit (Sharma) and (Virat) Kohli are scoring," Sehwag said.
"We are top order batsmen and it is our job to play well and give a good start. We need to look back at our batting performances. We are playing good cricket since sometime, but today we were not able to play well. We hope to do well and not let down our fans,"Â the stand-in India skipper added.
Sehwag said the 79 runs scored by West Indies in the last five overs did not make much of a difference. "The last five overs did not make much of a difference as they have good hitters and we were expecting them to fire in the series. They batted well, we tried everything, slow, back of length good length, yorkers but they connected everything," he said.
Sehwag was all praise for Sharma, whose brilliant 95 ended up on a losing cause. "Rohit (Sharma) is a talented player. He is performing very well. In fact he is the only one who is performing consistently. Hope he continues with his form," he said.
Commenting about about Sharma's ability to bat alongside tail-enders, Sehwag said, "It is difficult to bat with tail-enders, but he knows what to do and how to rotate the strike and take runs. Rohit had good partnership with Ashwin today. And (Abhimanyu) Mithun and (Umesh) Yadav also played some good shots. We thought both would win the game but unfortunately we lost it."
Asked about the management's decision to replace Varun Aaron with Mithun, Sehwag said the former had injured his toe in the morning and his nail had come out.