"No excuses," said Indian captain Virat Kohli after yet another batting capitulation led to his team's 0-2 series defeat at the hands of New Zealand on Monday (2nd March).
A forthright Kohli admitted that his batsmen let the team down after the bowlers brought them back into the game on the second day.
"We accept it upfront and if we have to win away from home, we have to do that. No excuses, just learning moving forward. In Tests, we weren't able to play the cricket we wanted to," Kohli said.
After making 242 in the first innings of the must-win second Test, India folded for 124 in their second essay, leaving the hosts with a victory target of 132 for a series sweep.
"The batsmen didn't do enough for the bowlers to try and attack. The bowling was good, I thought even in Wellington we bowled well. Sometimes if you bowl well and things don't happen, you have to take it in your stride," the skipper said.
At the presentation ceremony, Kohli said his team would have to "go back" to the drawing board.
"It was a matter of not having enough intent in the first game, and not closing out here. We didn't bowl in the right areas for long enough. They created a lot of pressure. It was a combination of us not executing well enough and New Zealand sticking to their plans.
"Disappointing, have to go back to the drawing board and correct things going forward."
Asked if the coin not landing in his favour had any impact, he said, "Toss, you could think about it being a factor, but we don't complain. It did give extra advantage to the bowlers in each Test but as an international side, you're expected to understand that."
New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson said beating world number one India was immensely satisfying.
"It's a fine line, India are a world-class side and to beat them is quite satisfying. A great effort," Williamson said.
"Fairly supporting surfaces, you could create opportunities throughout. History suggests it does a bit initially and flattens out. 30s and 40-run partnership was huge on this surface.
"A fantastic series from outside, the way we stuck at it."
He was full of praise for Man of the Match Kyle Jamieson, who impressed in both matches.
"Jamieson is an exciting talent, contributed very well in both games. The runs he scored towards the back end of both games were incredibly valuable.
"These two games are opportunities for us to try and take steps forward. Looking to finish off the season on a high."
In only his second Test, Jamieson picked up five wickets and scored a valuable 49 when New Zealand were in all sorts of trouble in their first innings.
"It's been pretty surreal couple of weeks, just to be part of the group and win a couple of matches feels good," Jamieson said.
"Pitch conditions obviously help and trying to find the fuller length and making decisions more often about the length and sometimes natural variations take over.
"It's time that I work on a lot on my batting, especially batting lower down the order and in both tests the partnerships down the order have made a difference."
Kohli irked after NZ scribe asks about his celebration of Williamson's dismissal
Kohli got annoyed after being asked about his animated celebrations over Williamson's dismissal on day two of the second Test before clarifying that match referee Ranjan Madugalle had no issues with what happened.
However, when Williamson was asked about the incident, New Zealand captain downplayed the incident, saying it was "typical of Virat, who plays the game with lot of passion".
Following India's seven wicket loss, one of the local journalists sought Kohli's reaction on allegedly swearing at Williamson and that did not go down well with the away team captain. India lost the series 0-2.
"What do you think? I am asking you the answer," the irritation was writ large on Indian skipper's face as he came up with a sharp retort.
"You need to find out an answer and come up with a better question. You can't come here with half questions and half details of what happened. Also if you want to create controversy, this is not the right place. I spoke with the match referee (Madugalle) and he had no issues with what happened," said Kohli.
It was on day two when Williamson was dismissed by Jasprit Bumrah and Kohli was animated as ever in his celebrations. Kohli also gestured the crowd to keep quiet.
When Williamson was asked about Kohli's celebrations, he simply laughed it off.
"It is Virat and he is passionate on the field. I don't think we need to read too much into it," Williamson told
We were completely outplayed, can't live in denial: Kohli
Kohli admitted that his side was "completely outplayed" by New Zealand in the two-Test series and they can't live in denial about "not being brave enough" to counter adverse conditions.
The Indian batting was in complete shambles in the two-Test series and the skipper said that with a packed schedule, the team management will have to find solutions despite time constraints.
"Obviously quite disappointed with how we played in this series. I feel like we were completely outplayed in this series," the Indian captain was honest and forthright in his assessment following the seven-wicket loss in the second Test.
"We obviously didn't play the kind of cricket we do as a team. The thing to take away from here is to not shy away from things that have gone wrong and instead address them straight up, and not be in denial," he said.
Asked to point out what exactly went wrong, Kohli felt the outlook towards a series in adverse conditions was "not ideal".
"I think the outlook as far as I am concerned, and as far as I saw things happening, was not ideal for us in this series. We were not positive enough. We were not brave enough in moments, which we have done in the past. Skills follow your mindset, simple as that."
However, he didn't like New Zealand being called India's "bogey team", having lost to the Black Caps in 2019 World Cup semifinal and two series in white and red ball formats.
"I am sure no one was saying that in first half of the tour," he said referring to his team's 5-0 win in the T20 series.
"You can't just make a team a bogey team because of one Test series defeat and a semi-final loss. They played better cricket on that day, and in this Test series, and there is no shame in accepting that.
"We are not trying to create some controversy by tagging a team or naming a bogey team or something like that," the skipper certainly wasn't amused.
But does the team have enough time to iron out the flaws considering the amount of cricket it plays?.
"There are two ways to look at it. I would much rather be in the middle and try to correct those things rather than having too much time in between and waiting for a game to arrive so that you can figure out whether you have corrected it or not," said Kohli.
"The advantage of playing a lot of cricket is that if you are working on something, you have many games to try and execute it straight up. It's the way you look at it. As I said, it needs to be balanced. Neither can you over-think nor be in denial. It works differently for different people."
Asked about specific mistakes that this team can rectify, Kohli said that clarity of mind is paramount.
"Something (clarity) we failed to do as a batting unit, and I truly believe that we made too much of the conditions from the first day onwards, of the first Test: overcast, a bit of dampness on the pitch we never spoke of these things before.
"If you're not clear in your head then the feet don't move, you're not quite sure whether to play the shot or not, leave the ball or play the ball. I think these sort of things can creep in, and which have crept in our game in this series. It's something we have recognised already," he added.
Can't single Pant out in collective failure: Kohli on Pant's form
Kohli said the under-fire Rishabh Pant has got a "lot of chances" but the team is not looking to try someone else in the youngster's place just yet as one player can't be singled out in a collective failure.
Pant has been under the scanner for the past one year because of his inconsistent run. His tally of 60 runs across four innings in the 0-2 Test series loss to New Zealand, which concluded here on Monday, has only amplified the debate whether it was prudent to leave out a keeper of Wriddhiman Saha's calibre and back Pant.
"...we have given him (Pant) a lot of chances in the home season as well starting from Australia. Then he was not playing for a bit. In turn he really worked hard on himself," Kohli came to Pant's defence after the series.
"You need to figure out when is the right time to give someone else a chance. If you push people too early, they can lose confidence," he added.
"...collectively, we didn't perform. I don't believe in singling him out. We take the hit together as a group whether it's the batting group or as a team."
When asked if he believes Pant has taken his place in the side for granted, Kohli made it clear that the culture of this team doesn't encourage anyone to think along those lines.
"I don't see anyone taking his place for granted in this team. That's the culture we have set. People are told to take responsibilities and work hard. Whether it happens or not is a different thing. Then you can have a conversation with the players," he said.
"But no one has come here thinking I am going to play every game or I am indispensable," he added in no uncertain terms.
Kohli, just like head coach Ravi Shastri, made it clear that Pant can make a difference in overseas conditions and he won't like to deviate during future tours.
"The time that he didn't play, he really worked hard on his game. So we thought this is the right time because of his game and the way he plays because he can make a difference lower down the order.
"That was our planning behind it. We can't really fluctuate when it comes to what we planned," he added.