Sydney: India must avoid blaming individuals and shoulder the burden of turning their fortunes around collectively after a crushing defeat to Australia, says captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
The tourists were bowled out for 400 on Friday's fourth day of the contest to fall to their second defeat in two weeks and relinquish any hope of recording a first series triumph on Australian soil. In the first Test in Melbourne, the fifth-ranked Australians bowled India in their second innings for 169 to win by 122 runs. The home side then dominated the second Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground to win by an innings and 68 runs.
Both Tests were lost inside four days, and questions are being asked about the motivation of India's star players away from home.
"In patches we have done well," said Dhoni. "We have got the opposition out. In the last innings we have seen we can score 400-odd runs. We need to get everything together. We need to do well as a bowling unit and we need to bat well as a batting unit and come off good fielding performances. We need to get it all together. We need to keep it really simple and score big hundreds and we need to get wickets."
India's heavy defeat extended their string of losses away from home to six consecutive Tests. India lost all four Tests of their tour of England in July and August last year.
"If you see the last two series, our performance in England and now here, we didn't put enough runs on the board. It's important to take 20 wickets, but you also need the cushion of extra runs," said a fazed Indian captain.
"We haven't put enough runs. Even in England, not often we scored 300 runs. It doesn't allow bowlers to experiment a bit when the rival batsmen are set. They never got the cushion of those runs."
The defeats have raised questions about the capability of India's aging stars to lift themselves for the remaining Tests in Perth and Adelaide.
"Motivation is not something we are worried about," Dhoni said. "Once we came people talked a lot about winning the series over here. It's not about how good we look on paper, ultimately the team which performs better on the field is the one that will win."
"We have lost the chance of winning the series but still with two more Test matches to go, we can level the series, so that's what we're looking to do. We have got enough days from now until the start of the Perth game."
"What we need to do is not just blame one individual. As a team we need to perform. It's very important to hunt in packs rather than individuals."
With each successive Test loss away from India, more questions are raised about a batting line-up that contains five batsmen over 30 years of age, with Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Sachin Tendulkar edging closer to 40.
"With age comes plenty of experience," Dhoni said. "They're the best that we have got as of now. What's important is to enjoy the game, stick to the present and try to break down the sessions. Hopefully it will get better and we'll score more runs in the coming two Test matches."
"These are the best 17 players who are here so we have no reason to complain about the selection. With better execution of plans we'll have better results in the future."
India's batsmen failed to register a single century between them in two full innings on a surface where Michael Clarke hammered 329 not out and Ricky Ponting (134) and Mike Hussey (150 not out) also had success.
"It is a bit of a worry but the good thing, if see the second innings we saw the batsmen score runs," Dhoni added. "It was not good enough to defend the Test match, but what we have seen in the last couple of Test matches is everybody has scored at least a 50, which gives us an indication that we need to convert those 50s into big innings and put runs on the board."
With skipper Dhoni under increasing pressure, he was asked at the conclusion of the second Test whether the run of losses had led to the most difficult phase of his captaincy, since taking over from Anil Kumble in November 2008.
"You'll lose at times and face difficult times and that's what really improves you as an individual and as a skipper," he said.
"If everything comes easy to you then you don't really appreciate the hard work that goes with it."
"This will also help team get strong. If you don't look good as a captain, it's also about how we are executing our plans. If we do so, we will have better results in the future."
Looking ahead, Dhoni felt spending extra hours in the nets wouldn't provide the solution.
"They have got a fair amount of exposure to Australian bowling. Now you need to switch off from the game. You don't want to overdo it. There may be few individuals who would like to spend more time in the nets. I personally feel if you switch off, it de-stresses you and you come back in a positive state of mind."
"I feel rather than spend more time on the field, you need to spend time off the field in recreational activity and get some time off cricket."