Captain Virat Kohli has delivered a strong response to a journalist who questioned India's selection strategy, but conceded his team "need to be hard on ourselves" after their streak of nine successive series wins ended in South Africa.
India were blown away by debutant Lungi Ngidi on the fifth day of the second Test in Centurion, the 21-year-old taking 6-39 as South Africa clinched the three-match series with a 135-run win.
In a typically forthright press conference, Kohli acknowledged that the Proteas had outplayed his side on a slow pitch that took some turn from the opening day of the match.
"These conditions are something we are used to," he said. "South Africa collectively were a much better team than us.
"We need to ask ourselves if we are giving 120 percent for the team every time we play a ball, bowl a ball or field a ball.
"As a team we will definitely lay out these things in the open and ask the guys to be honest about what they were thinking about at particular stages of the game."
While not shirking any responsibility for the loss, Kohli hit back at a journalist who suggested constantly changing the playing XI had contributed to the defeat.
India's selectors have consistently made changes to their side during their recent winning run; with Ajinkya Rahane dropped for the first two Tests against South Africa, every member of the touring party except rookie allrounder Hardik Pandya has been dropped at least once under Kohli's leadership.
When it was suggested that the inconsistent selection was a reason for their series loss, Kohli was quick to point out that the same strategy had held them in good stead during their streak of nine consecutive series wins.
And he added his side has been far more competitive in the first two Tests than South Africa had been on their 2015 tour of India.
BELOW IS A PARTIAL TRANSCRIPT OF KOHLI'S POST-MATCH PRESS CONFERENCE
REPORTER: In over 30 Tests that you have been captain, you have changed your starting line-up in each and every Test you have played. I think you would know that to win Test matches you need a lot of consistency, and you have been lacking that part. What would you put that down to, and how would you say that you will continue changing your team and still expect different results?
KOHLI: How many Test matches have we won out of 30?
REPORTER: In how many have you changed the starting line-up?
KOHLI: How many have we won? How many have we won?
REPORTER: In how many have you changed the line-up?
KOHLI: Twenty-one wins. Two losses. How many draws?
REPORTER: How many in India?
KOHLI: Doesn't matter. Wherever we play, we try to do our best. I’m here to answer your questions, not to fight with you.
REPORTER: Do you still believe you’re the best side in the world?
KOHLI: Look, we have to believe that we are the best side. Even when we came here, if you don’t have the belief that you can win the series here, there is no point coming here. We have not come here just to participate. And answering your question, sir, how many times did South Africa come into the game in India? Come close to winning games in India? Can you count?
REPORTER: That’s because of the spinning pitches.
KOHLI: But we are not complaining about Cape Town either. The game was finished in three days, one was a washout. So look, we are not complaining about pitches, we are not complaining about conditions. We have come here to play. As I said, we have had equal opportunities to win in both games, and that’s the positive we can take out of it, but I’m not sitting here comforting my guys. So I don’t know what you are listening to, but I’m asking everyone to be hard on themselves.