'It was difficult to manoeuvre with three bowlers'
If the Indian cricket team loses, a multitude of excuses are bound to follow. That has been the norm since eternity.
It wasn't any different following India's 196-run defeat to England in the opening Test at Lord's on Monday.
It was a historic Test match -- being the 2,000th overall and 100th between the two nations involved. More importantly, it was against a side that hadn't beaten India in five years -- nine years on home soil.
The defeat, therefore, was disappointing. Soon after, the Indian captain came in to explain. However, for once, the excuse seemed genuine.
"It became tough for us to manage the bowlers after we had lost Zaheer (Khan) on the first day," explained MS Dhoni.
"It was difficult to manoeuvre with three bowlers thereafter," he added.
Image: Zaheer Khan walks back to the pavillion
Photographs: Getty Images
Praveen, Ishant were superb
The Indian spearhead managed to bowl just 13.2 overs in the match before going off the field with a pulled hamstring. He didn't return for the remainder of the match.
And Dhoni felt therein lay the difference.
"Praveen (Kumar) bowled well in the first innings and Ishant (Sharma) was superb in the second," explained the captain, adding, "But we didn't have too many options, like, say, Viru (Virender Sehwag) and Yuvi (Yuvraj Singh) who could have chipped in with their spinners when required.
"We were limited when it came to bowling resources. We needed one extra bowler."
Image: Ishant Sharma celebrates after dismissing Kevin Pietersen
Opportunity to improve
While bowling was indeed an area of concern, the Indian batting (with all the star power) also left a lot to be desired. However, the captain had his own explanation for the failure in this case.
"As the Test progressed we witnessed variable bounce," said Dhoni, adding, "That meant our batsmen couldn't leave the ball on the bounce but play had to play it.
"I think that helped them (the England bowlers) to a certain extent.
"Also, our batting order had to be changed in the second innings -- Dravid opened, Laxman batted at No.3, Gambhir at No.4 and Sachin at No.5. Most of the things that could have gone wrong in this game went wrong."
The captain, though disappointed with the result, preferred to remain optimistic about the upcoming Tests.
"There's a lot of cricket left to be played. And that gives us an opportunity to improve," he concluded.
Image: MS Dhoni