Wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant said the failure of the Indian bowlers to claim wickets in the middle overs proved vital in their seven-wicket defeat against South Africa in the second ODI in Paarl on Friday.
Having lost the first game by 31 runs, India suffered another thrashing despite posting a healthy 287 after being put into bat. The emphatic victory also helped South Africa seal the three-match series 2-0.
"The track was slightly on the slower side and at the same time, we had enough runs on the board," Pant, who scored 85, said after the match.
"Last match (first ODI), we chased and this match we batted first, so when they batted, the wicket was much better for batting. In second innings, it became slower an slower as the game progressed.
"Today, it was same but they batted well in middle overs, that's why they chased down the target. We didn't get enough wickets in the middle overs," he said.
Pant admitted that Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram and Tabraiz Shamsi bowled better than Ravichandran Ashwin and Yuzvendra Chahal in the two games.
"I think they (SA spinners) were more consistent in their lines and lengths and they are used to playing in these conditions," he said.
One of the biggest reasons for the defeat is lack of 50-over game time for a long duration, opined Pant.
"We are playing ODIs after long time and lots of factors we can talk about but as a team, we are always looking to improve and hopefully, we will be able to rectify them in coming matches."
Pant brushed aside queries about poor form of veteran pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
"As a team, we are always looking to improve and I don't think there is much concern about Bhuvi bhai's form. Obviously, we are playing ODI after long time so we are just getting used to the momentum, obviously disappointed after losing the series but we are looking at ways to improve," he added.