Mohali: England skipper Alastair Cook on Tuesday blamed the team's top-order failure in both innings for their crushing eight-wicket loss to India in the third Test in Mohali on Tuesday.
The visitors let go of their advantage of batting first after winning the toss as they were soon reduced to 87 for four before posting 283 in the first innings.
Apart from wicketkeeper-batsman Jonny Bairstow (89) and Jos Buttler (43) none of the English batsmen got going against a disciplined Indian bowling.
"400 was par and we were below it. It doesn't just happen that you win the toss and get 400. We were not good enough to do it first time," said Cook.
Even in their second outing, the English top half fell apart at 78-4 on the evening of day three with batsmen forced to bat up the order after an injury to teenage opener Haseeb Hameed.
"It's not ideal when you lose your opener, he busts his hand and everyone has to move up.
"That happens once a year maybe, whichever team you are playing, but that was the second innings, we were behind the game in the first innings," Cook told reporters.
"No magic balls were being bowled really... It was good accurate bowling as you expect from India in these conditions. You can talk whatever way you want but the top order has got to deliver."
India grabbed the opportunity with both hands as their 417-run first innings total saw five half-centuries, giving the hosts a crucial lead of 134.
The Indian bowlers also came back well to bowl out the visitors for 236 despite gritty half-centuries from Joe Root (78) and Hameed (59 not out), who came out to bat at number eight.
The performance was certainly a far cry from England's strong opening performance in Rajkot when they posted 537 after batting first.
The visitors have lost two straight matches, in Viskhapatnam and Mohali, after the first drawn Test to trail the five-match series 2-0.
"It was frustrating. We haven't delivered in the last two games. There is nothing worse than that actually, when you know you can play better and you are not quite doing it," said Cook.
The two teams now have a break before the action shifts to Mumbai for the fourth Test starting December 8.