Krishnamachari Srikkanth says India should hunt for a young option to settle their middle-order woes after the pre-tournament favourites suffered a shock World Cup semi-final exit on Wednesday.
Virat Kohli's side crashed to an 18-run loss against New Zealand at Old Trafford after their batting fell apart against some quality new-ball bowling.
Needing just 240 to reach Sunday's final, two-time champions India slipped to 24 for four with star batsmen Rohit Sharma and Kohli back in the pavilion.
Ravindra Jadeja made a valiant 77 and put on 116 with MS Dhoni for the seventh wicket, but the New Zealand bowlers kept up the pressure to bowl India out for 221.
"We're still struggling to get the right middle order combination," former India captain Srikkanth wrote in his ICC Media column.
"Rishabh Pant is good but at number five we need to find someone as we've tried too many people there.
"We've tried Dinesh Karthik, we've tried Jadeja, we've tried Vijay Shankar, three guys have been tried and they've not proved useful so maybe we can find a good youngster for No.5."
Matt Henry led the Kiwi pace attack with aplomb to return figures of 3-37 and was ably supported by veteran Trent Boult, who took two wickets including Kohli's key scalp.
Pant fought back with a gritty 32 only to fall to left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner, who also accounted for the wicket of Hardik Pandya.
Srikkanth, a former chairman of the India selection committee, praised New Zealand's pace attack but said India's batsmen should have handled Santner better.
"I also thought Mitchell Santner bowled brilliantly, but India gave him too much respect," said Srikkanth.
"They should have played more positively against Santner. When I say positively, that doesn't mean hitting out, it's showing some sort of positivity against Santner, putting him under pressure."