Nagpur:A humbled Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Tuesday conceded his side had no answer to Dale Steyn's devastating pace in the first Test against South Africa but vowed to bounce back for a series-levelling win in the second match in Kolkata.
"We were completely outplayed in all departments of the game. It was a good wicket to bat on the first two days and Jacques Kallis and Hashim Amla played brilliantly for South Africa to put up a huge total. Then Dale Steyn produced sensational fast bowling spell," Dhoni said after the home side were handed an innings and six run defeat.
"Steyn's bowling, I think was the best I have seen in the last two years, at least as far as conventional swing bowling goes. Seven of the 14 dismissals of our batsmen were great deliveries," he added.
He said the change of ball after tea on Monday was the turning point of the match.
"The ball was changed at tea break and we lost five quick wickets. It changed everything. Once we lost Virender Sehwag, I got out immediately and the ball was reversing. After that it was difficult for the tail-enders," Dhoni said.
Dhoni refused to blame his bowlers for allowing South Africa to pile on a huge score in their first innings but said even on the flattest of pitches, international bowlers are expected to take wickets.
"I think it is unfair to blame the bowlers because it was a batting pitch. But we could have bowled better. In international cricket even on the flattest of pitches you can get wickets. But overall I would put that way that we have been outplayed," Dhoni said.
India will have to win the second and final Test starting in Kolkata on February 14 if they want to remain world number one and Dhoni conceded that his side is on the backfoot.
"We are on the backfoot no doubt. They (south Africa) can't lose the series now. So, we are under the pressure but we are always are under pressure. Last time when South Africa toured India it was the same position, they were ahead. So we are expecting to bounce back under pressure."
Visiting captain Graeme Smith was a delighted man considering the controversial incidents that happened at home before the tour.
"It has been outstanding performance from the players. To win here, you need lots of discipline and hard work and the guys have showed it. There were a few special individual performances like from Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis and Dale Steyn but it's a good team-effort," he said.
"It was an emotional last two weeks with what all the changes going around (coach and selectors being sacked). The guys showed how much they want to contribute for South African cricket," he added.
Praising Dale Steyn for his sensational fast bowling performance, Smith said, "It's nice to have a someone like Steyn. To run in Indian batsmen like that and bowl as he did. It all happened so quickly even for us, it was great to watch."
On left-arm spinner Paul Harris, Smith said, "He bowled well, he is not a fancied cricketer but he knows his role and he has come back well."
Man-of-the-match Hashim Amla, who made 253 not out, said his experience of sharing some big partnerships with Jacques Kallis earlier helped him.
"It was one of my best knocks. It was a crucial time when I came into the crease and I got the team into a great position. Everybody feels a bit of pressure and I am just grateful that I got an opportunity to put the team in a good position," he said.
"I have had a few good partnerships with Kallis. Once we both got in we complimented each other. When I wasn't scoring he was (scoring) and vice versa. With the ball turning, anything can happen with the new guy coming in. So, I just tried to keep it as risk-free as possible and concentrated not on hitting anything in the air."