KOLKATA: At a loss of words to explain just what exactly is going wrong for the Indian cricket team, captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Sunday said the side's batsmen have to shoulder more responsibility in the series-deciding fourth Test against England starting on Thursday.
After bouncing back to level the series in Mumbai, England took an unbeatable 2-1 lead in the four-match series with a seven-wicket victory at the Eden Gardens, where India lost for the first time in 13 years.
"On a wicket like this, we need to score runs and give the bowlers the liberty of backing up the runs and the situation will be slightly different," Dhoni said in the post-match media interaction.
"The batting will have to take up the responsibility. We need to score more runs. It was a very good wicket to bat on. Of course the bowlers will bowl a few good deliveries that we need to keep out.
"But in the top seven most of us have to score runs at the same time so that we have par score which the bowlers can look to defend," Dhoni said.
Giving full support to off-colour pace spearhead Zaheer Khan, Dhoni reiterated that the bowler was fully fit and putting in his best despite hardly having any wickets to show for it.
"As far as his fitness is concerned, he has been the way he's for the last few years. He's definitely not unfit. He is doing everything.
"About being not effective, maybe the batsmen are playing him better. From behind, it looks he's bowling in the right areas. Maybe this is a phase where he's not getting wickets. But he's bowling the same way, swinging both ways. Fitness is definitely not an issue," he said.
Asked about the team's poor run, the skipper said: "It's a very technical question. But the beauty of it is we all know the problem. It would be a great help if we find out the solution as everybody is asking the same question."
After conceding a 207-run first innings lead, India's bid to save the third Test failed as they slipped from 86 for no loss to 197 for nine, losing six wickets for 36 runs in the post-lunch session on Saturday.
On the transition phase in the middle-order after the retirement of veterans Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman, Dhoni said, "It's a difficult task. It's a situation where everybody will feel a bit of pressure.
"But we will want to get rid of this and back each other well. But as an individual you have to back yourself more. It's a self-belief that's important. The effort has to show. We have to make sure if we get our start, we make it big. In the top seven, at least four or five need to contribute."
"It would be very difficult if you don't score too many runs in the first innings and the opponents score runs, you would find yourself under pressure."
Dhoni, however, backed his bowlers despite the fact that they have struggled to take 20 wickets in a match.
"Overall, the bowlers are doing well. If you are not putting runs on the board, you can't question the bowlers whether they could have defended or not.
"I felt the spinners have done a really good job; a bit more contribution from the fast bowlers would really help the side."
On the English pacers, who seem to be extracting quite bit out of the Indian dustbowls, he said, "It was more about the bounce and the length they bowled. Of course they had (Steven) Finn who bowled quicker.
"They constantly looked to put pressure on batsmen. The spinners also looked to bowl in one area. If we were a bit more patient and kept batted for a few long sessions, we would have more opportunity."
On Yuvraj Singh's slump in form, he said: "I can't really comment on selection when the team is being selected."
Asked whether there would be any strategic changes ahead of the fourth Test, Dhoni said: "We have made it clear what the roles and responsibilities are. But that does not mean we follow a general principle.
"It's important to keep changing. We keep altering the plans, preparations, all those subtle things. Outside we can't really change much. You don't want me to start shouting because that's not really me.
"You won't see a lot of change from outside but you would see a few when you're part of the dressing room."
Asked about the Nagpur Test, he said, "From here we really don't know what's there in Nagpur. But we have played on wickets in Nagpur that turned and that did not."