London: Indian captain MS Dhoni sported a forlorn look at the post-match presser and his answers were as gloomy as his mood. They just about stated the obvious rather than talk about the real issues that plague Indian cricket.

When asked to pinpoint the reasons behind India's dismal performance, the man who had never lost a series as captain before this one, chose to dwell on what might have been.

"Throughout the series we were never able to put scores above 300. That makes life very difficult for bowlers. We lost a bowler in each of the first two Tests (Zaheer at Lord's and Harbhajan at Trent Bridge). That made things tough for us. Gambhir too got injured in the first Test and even here at The Oval he wasn't fit," Dhoni said.

Indeed, fitness of the key players or rather the lack of it has been a thorny issue for India in England and one would have expected the captain to have a form opinion on the subject.

But the man who played flashy strokes on the pitch, chose to shoulder arms to fitness-related queries. "It's a difficult one to answer. Once you are given a fitness report you tend to wait. When it comes to fitness of players like Viru and Zaheer, you always wait as they can make a lot of difference to the side.

"With Zaheer the injury problems were completely different. It was not his shoulder or his hamstring. It was his ankle that gave away and it was a different injury."

The Indian captain also chose to be diplomatic when queried about whether Sachin's landmark of 100 international centuries was proving to be a distraction to the team.

"The only time I talk about it is when I'm asked about it in press conferences. When we go back to the dressing room or the hotel, we never talk about it. All of us know what kind of a cricketer he is. If he has even a half-good day, he can score those runs."

The topic veered towards the future and how India could turn things around and Dhoni, for the first time in the series, chose to dwell on the specifics.

"For a start we need to put runs on the board. We also must realize the importance of grooming young fast bowlers as I found it very difficult to manage with just three seamers and a few part-timers, who were spinners. We have seen how difficult it can get for a youngster if he is thrown into Test cricket straight away."

(Agencies)