Melbourne: India skipper MS Dhoni admitted India must find a way to run through the lower-order quickly, in the aftermath of the 122-run loss to Australia in the first Test at the MCG on Thursday.
The visitors' inability to polish off the tail had a telling effect on the outcome of the match. India let Australia make 240 in their second innings from the overnight total of 179 for eight, with veteran Michael Hussey scoring a gritty 89 on a difficult wicket. India had let the hosts off the hook even in their first innings, where they managed 333 after being reduced to 214 for six.
"It (Australia tail wagging) didn't deflate us but it is something we need to keep an eye on. Even in the first innings, their lower order put on some decent runs and in close matches if tailenders end up making a contribution like this, it has a significant impact on the result of the match. We need to come up with ways to get the tailenders out quickly, especially if they are batting in the 65th or the 70th over," said Dhoni.
Meanwhile, the skipper attributed his team's loss to the failure of the batsmen and praised the Australian bowlers for maintaining a "nagging" line throughout the match.
India, chasing a 292-run target, were bowled out for 169 in their second innings on the fourth day for their eighth defeat on the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Dhoni said the target was gettable but the batting let them down for the second time in the game.
"We thought if we could them get them out for 240 or 250-odd runs, that is a very gettable score. But even 290 was something we should have chased down. The wicket was pretty good, there wasn't much wear and tear on the pitch. So, it is just that our batting line-up flopped in both the innings," Dhoni told reporters at the post-match conference.
"We had a decent start in the first innings, we had a partnership going but we were not able to capitalise on that and in the end we were 50 runs short of their total. In the second innings, wickets kept on falling at regular intervals, making it tougher for us to get close to the target. Looking ahead, we need to get consistent with our batting," said Dhoni.
Gautam Gambhir (3 and 13) and Virat Kohli (11 and 0) looked out of sorts against a potent bowling attack. Dhoni, however, insisted there was no need to panic on the form of the two batsman.
"Gambhir's form is not a major issue. He is batting really well in the nets. He just needs to take that extra step and take the same form into the middle. Once you play 30-40 deliveries as an opener, everything is sorted out. As for Kohli, he is someone who has been doing well for us. If you want to rely on statistics, you can prove every batsman is good and every batsman is bad. We would have to wait on him."
Dhoni complimented the Australian bowlers, who got the best out of a helpful wicket, particularly Man-of-the-Match James Pattinson and comeback man Ben Hilfenhaus.
"We failed as a batting unit but you need to give credit to the Australian bowlers. It wasn't the batsmen alone who made mistakes. The deliveries were good too. The line and length they bowled, they were too close to the off-stump. Some of the balls came in, some of them held its line. they made the batsmen play all the time."
The skipper, though, vehemently denied that it was the intimidatory tactics of the Australian fast bowlers which caught his batsmen napping.
"If you see the wicket, it wasn't an ideal one. It had a spongy bounce, the short deliveries were not coming at fast pace. They bowled nagging line, their line and length were both very good. It wasn't the short stuff which had us worried."
He had a word of praise for his own bowlers as well.
"The bowlers did their job in this particular Test. We didn't start really well, but then we got quick wickets and put pressure on the opposition. Bowlers did their job, it is just that we need to post runs on the board. The big positive that we could take from here is that we took 20 wickets," Dhoni said of the pace trio of Zaheer Khan, Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma.