I didn't have any tricks left, says dejected Dhoni
When a team is under pressure going into a match, and the results are not on expected lines, it is difficult for a captain to come up with an explanation.
Successive defeats make the scenario worse.
And if the team in question is India, pacifying all the voices raised become an impossible ask.
MS Dhoni's predicament was not very difficult to understand.
India had lost two Test matches in succession and their margins were huge. It was, therefore, not surprising that he came in to the post-match presser, following India's 319-run thrashing at Trent Bridge on Monday, expecting a barrage of expected questions.
The responses that came from him, therefore, weren't impromptu statements, but calculated.
The first salvo was fired even before he could make himself comfortable.
'Do you think India isn't playing like the No.1 team?'
"I would agree to that to some extent, as far as this series is concerned," admitted Dhoni, subsequently proceeding to dissect the areas he felt his team was lacking or found wanting.
"There were quite a few things that we were missing," he explained.
Image: MS Dhoni
Photographs: Getty Images
'England are playing very good cricket'
"The bowlers, I thought, got valuable breakthroughs for us, despite missing one of their colleagues almost each time," he continued, adding, "But we were slightly lacking as regards scoring consistently.
"There's undue pressure, all of a sudden, on you if you don't score consistently. It will be good to see slight improvement in the batting." Dhoni was quick to lavish praise on England.
"They are playing very good cricket," he reasoned. "In such a scenario we had to be at our best and, unfortunately, we haven't been able to do that. We needed to put more pressure on them.
"That's the major difference between the two sides."
Elaborating the point, he pointed out at what he felt was the precise reason behind the thrashing India received at Trent Bridge.
"They really bat deep. In the first innings they were eight down for 110-120, but still managed to score 100 more runs.
"Those 100 runs really mattered in the final analysis," he added.
Image: England players walk off the pitch after they beat India
'My form is a concern'
"Our lower order has done the same thing in the past, but their contribution has been one of the big areas of concern in this series so far.
"Besides, we also couldn't see off the new ball when batting [in the first innings] and that cost us a healthy lead."
Dhoni had no qualms about accepting he had run out of ideas following the pressure applied by the home team.
"I didn't have any tricks left, to be honest," he admitted.
"With whatever bowlers I had at my disposal, I tried everything. But you have to also understand that for some of us it is a seven-match Test series -- three in the West Indies and four here. There's hardly any gap."
He was also forthcoming about his own form, or the lack of it.
"My form is a concern," he admitted. "But it is a matter of 15 deliveries that can decide if you are in form or are out of it. We should hopefully enjoy the few days we have before the Edgbaston Test to our advantage."
Image: MS Dhoni