'They soaked up the pressure when we were bowling well'
India may have lost the series after the second Test against New Zealand, at Wellington, ended in a draw on Tuesday, but Mahendra Singh Dhoni credited his bowling attack for being up to the challenge.
But India's captain also rued the lack of a fifth bowler, which could have been a game changer for India.
"Overall, it’s been quite a good performance. We have been improving right from South Africa [series]. We have shown that we are a side that's very talented," said Dhoni, at the post-match presentation ceremony.
"We did well in the series, in this Test particularly, because we fought back pretty well ourselves. We bowled the right areas, which I think is very important on the flat wickets," he added.
Having bundled out the Black Caps for 192 in the first innings and taken a 246-run lead, India looked good to win the second Test, after reducing New Zealand to 94 for five in their second innings.
But Brendon McCullum (302) and BJ Watling staged a remarkable fightback, sharing a world record partnership of 352 runs for the sixth wicket and took the hosts to safe shores.
"In the first Test, our second innings was brilliant. Then we came here [Wellington], won the toss and bowled really well in the first innings. In the second innings also we got a good start till Brendon and Watling came in.
“I don't think it was bad bowling; it was just that they kept the good deliveries out," Dhoni explained.
Praising McCullum and Watling’s heroic batting, Dhoni added, "We appreciate what Brendon and Watling did. They soaked up the pressure when we were bowling well and scored freely once the bowlers got tired."
Image: Brendon McCullum chats with Mahendra Singh Dhoni during a break in play
Photographs: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images
'Appreciate the way the bowlers took the challenge'
Despite being unable to take 20 wickets, Dhoni was all praise for his bowlers.
India's pace trio of Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami and Zaheer Khan combined for 139 of India's 210 overs in New Zealand's second innings.
Left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja bowled 52 overs and such was Dhoni's desire to dismiss Watling and McCullum that he resorted to bowling an over himself while part-timers Rohit Sharma, Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan also bowled a few.
"That was one of the partnerships that we had to break to get into the lower order batsmen.
"From behind the stumps you try to figure out how to get him out. You'll try everything from catching slips to catching covers to deep square leg to deep point; bowling onto the pads and bowling outside off.
"Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.
"I think, overall, we'll accept that we were not able to get two batsmen out and they batted really well.
"We give credit to them but, at the same time, what really needs to be appreciated is the will and the way our fast bowlers tried to get the opposition out on a very flat wicket."
"We had to field for two, two-and-a-half days and I must appreciate the way the bowlers took the challenge. Even when the third new ball was taken, they ran in hard and looked for wickets. They were willing to go on. I think they did whatever they could. At the end of the day, we will accept the result."
Image: Ishant Sharma on Day 5 of the second Test
Photographs: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images
'Playing on surfaces like this, you may need that fifth bowler'
Dhoni also looked enviously at the make-up of New Zealand's side, with two genuine all-rounders in Corey Anderson and Neesham, who took the pressure off their own pace trio of Trent Boult, Tim Southee and Neil Wagner.
"It's good to have cricketers who can bat and bowl, especially in Test matches.
"Playing on surfaces like this you may need that fifth bowler. We have not been able to get the kind of all-rounder that some of the other countries have.
"Because with that you can try to maintain the pressure ... [and] overall, that really sets the tone for the New Zealand team."
It turned out to be a disastrous tour for India as they were unable to taste victory on the tour, losing the ODI series 0-4 and the Tests 0-1.
Summing up the tour, Dhoni said he was disappointed with the team's performance in the One-dayers.
"We were quite disappointed with the ODIs, because we were in a position to capitalise, but couldn't.
"The Test series, we knew it would be slightly tough because there are not many players who have played a lot of Tests, which means it is always a good exposure for all of them.
"But, I think, we did well, especially the bowling department.
"Quite a few people wondered if we could take 20 wickets, especially with the spinners not getting too many wickets. But we showed that in the first Test, and even in the first innings here. We have been improving -- the pace at which it is happening we can be a much better side," he said.
Image: MS Dhoni talks to Murali Vijay (front) during the second Test on Sunday
Photographs: Anthony Phelps/Reuters