We were outplayed by a better team: Dhoni
For a captain on a roll, it is nothing sort of an embarrassment. For someone who has never tasted defeat, it is a bitter pill to swallow.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni's predicament, following India's innings and 242-run thrashing at the hands of England in Edgbaston, wasn't difficult to comprehend.
His first series loss as captain took a long time coming. However, it probably came at the most inopportune moment.
It wasn't just about losing the series. It was about the extent of the defeat, the humiliation of having been thrashed in three successive Tests -- the margin of defeat getting bigger on each occasion.
When he was asked to replace Anil Kumble -- in the third Test against South Africa in Kanpur in 2008 -- little did Dhoni know that he would have such a long unbeaten run at the helm of the Indian team, taking it to the top spot in the ICC Test rankings. That it would come to such an abject end was also beyond comprehension.
To his credit, though, Dhoni took the reverse with utmost grace, and put up a brave face.
"Losing a series is something that you can't guarantee," he reasoned.
"You can't really play at the top level thinking you will always win," he continued, adding, "Being a team sport, the team has to play well.
"And you have to be at your best when playing top nations, like England. That obviously wasn't the case."
Image: Graeme Swann and Matt Prior celebrates after winning the third Test
Photographs: Getty Images
'Our batting didn't click'
India's captain did not take long to explain the reason behind the defeat.
"Our batting didn't click. We couldn't put par plus scores in each of the matches," he admitted.
"I can't pinpoint reasons as to what went wrong. In Tests, you need to score runs, and take wickets. We didn't do that and most of the sessions were won by them
"The pressure kept mounting on us as the series progressed," he added.
Dhoni minced no words while admitting the team's failure.
"Cricket is a simple sport. It becomes complicated only when you make it so.
"Let's just say we were outplayed by a better team. The series never went our way, he said."
Image: Gautam Gambhir is clean bowled by Tim Bresnan
'We need to forget these last three games'
With the 3-0 defeat, India also surrendered its No.1 Test ranking, which it held on to since December 2009. (England needed to win the series by a two-Test margin to usurp the top spot).
The captain was dismissive of the same.
"Losing the No.1 spot, we never thought about it. It is something you earn, not own.
"So we are not too worried about it," he said.
What made him a worried man though was the next Test at The Oval -- a loss would subject India to a whitewash for the first time since 2000, when they were thrashed 3-0 Down Under.
"We need to forget these last three games and make the most of the fourth Test," explained Dhoni.
"We have to take the burden of these defeats off us. The major question now is whether these defeats will help us to get back.
"With one Test left, we can't think about the margin but what we need to do."
Image: MS Dhoni
'Our expectations are real'
With the series lost, Dhoni could be forgiven for playing down the 'expectation' factor.
"I have realized over the years that in India the expectations levels go only one way. They just keep climbing up.
"But, as a team, we know what the reality is. Our expectations are for real," he declared.
Image: Shane Warne and Liz Hurley