Struggling Indian opener Gautam Gambhir on Tuesday conceded that his team has let the entire nation down in the ongoing Test series against Australia and has failed to live up to the expectations.
India trail the four-match series 0-3 and are in danger of a second successive Test whitewash abroad after the England debacle last year.
"We have let the entire nation down and I will be the first one to accept it. There is a backlash which is happening back home and we are ready to accept it. We have given the opportunity to people (to criticise us). We haven't played good cricket and not lived up to the expectations, given the batting we have," said Gambhir after nets here today.
"We have let the common man down who expects us to perform and I accept it. We need to turn it around as quickly as possible," he added.
The left-handed opener has scored only 144 runs from six innings at an average of 24.00 and is only one of the batsmen of the Indian batting unit, which has collectively failed on the present tour.
"I am not someone who would be hesitant to take the responsibility. I will be the first one to accept it. If you want to be number one, you have to perform well and start winning overseas, whether England, South Africa or Australia," said Gambhir.
The left-hander's problem is symptomatic of a larger malaise as he hasn't hit a hundred for over two years now.
"If hundred is everything and I score one followed by four or five low scores, I don't think I would be satisfied. You want consistency. If a hundred is followed by innings when I don't reach double figures, I wouldn't be happy.
"You want to be consistent. If a 100 comes your way, well and good. It's a long journey from zero to hundred and as we all know, it's a one ball game for a batsman. But I am not thinking of putting together a hundred, rather consistent 50s will make me happy," he insisted.
Gambhir also urged to consider collective failure as an issue rather than singling out individuals.
"What make us happy is winning the series not Sachin's 100th hundred. We would be far more happy if we win the series compared to if Sachin has got his 100. Conversely, if Sachin gets his hundred and we don't win, it isn't satisfying. It's all about winning the series rather than any individual performance."
Questions flew thick and fast if the change of captaincy, now that Mahendra Singh Dhoni is all set to miss the Adelaide Test for slow over-rate, could bring a new spark from Virender Sehwag, and Gambhir said, "He will be aggressive. But I have always believed a captain is as good as the team.
"There has been no great captain, it's not the captain who makes the difference. It's the eleven in the field who make difference. It's not MS (Dhoni), an individual who takes the blame if the entire team hasn't performed. Same would be with Sehwag. It's the eleven who have to perform, it's not just him. We need to play well as a unit."
It's been an accepted norm that openers need to fire, especially abroad, if the rest of the batting is to fall in place but Gambhir refused to agree with the notion entirely.
"Openers do help if they negotiate the new ball. It helps the rest of the batting. But they can't be blamed alone. I've already said I accept to have failed. But it's the entire batting unit, which has to take the responsibility. It can't only be openers or middle orders.
Gambhir, meanwhile, gave full credit to the Australians for their excellent performance as a unit.
"It's been challenging. Australia is a tough place to tour. But a lot of credit goes to them. I will not be hesitant to accept it. They have played some very good cricket as a unit overall. They have always kept the pressure and not let us off the hook."
"But one good day and one good session could change it all. There's a lot of cricket left in this series. We are not even midway through. If we do well in Adelaide and take the momentum forward, we could make the difference (in the T20 and One-day Internationals)," Gambhir said.
"There's a lot of cricket yet to be played. In Adelaide, hopefully we could bring the smiles back on the faces of the people," he stressed.
Gambhir said the individual batters haven't been able to convert good starts but claimed the mood in the camp was still upbeat.
"We've been working hard, as you could see at the net session. But it's not going our way. Our top seven have had fifties but none of them have been able to convert it. But the mood is completely fine. If you are playing for your country and the next Test is only six days away, we need to be up for it," explained the opener.
"Things haven't gone our way but we still need to be positive and do well in Adelaide and subsequently in the one-day series. If you are playing for your country, you need to be positive and look at next Test and try to win it."
Gambhir was dismissive of Glenn McGrath's reported suggestion that India would be easy to beat in the one-day series as well.
"In a series, a lot of chit-chat happens. If he thinks so, good luck to him. If we play well and good cricket, we have the calibre and talent to turn things around," said Gambhir.