A dejected England captain Kevin Pietersen on Monday conceded that the six-wicket loss to India in the first cricket Test was a "bitter pill to swallow" considering that his side had control the match much of the time.
"The boys are not happy in the dressing room, but I think that both the teams could be really proud of the way they played a Test match cricket during the last five days after the incident in Mumbai. For both the teams to come after that and play the Test match and put on performances like this, they must be proud of themselves," Pietersen told reporters at the post-match media conference.
Pietersen pointed out that it was extremely disappointing to lose the game after having the upper hand. "To control the 70 per cent of the time and unfortunately to miss out is a pretty bitter pill to swallow," he said.
Pietersen admitted that Sachin Tendulkar's 103 not out made a huge difference in the end.
"You cannot write Sachin Tendulkar's script any better. The man from Mumbai came and scored a sensational century today. He batted like a super star. We tried everything, but he got stuck and played well. It was a super, super innings," he said.
England were looking to set a target of 400, Pietersen said, but defended the slow pace of his team's batting on the fourth morning. "It was difficult to force the issue yesterday. Considering the wicket's behaviour on Sunday, I think our players did a fantastic job in ushering us in to a position that we should have won the Test match," he said.
On the team's strategy after India lost their fourth wicket at 224, Pietersen said England were very much in with a chance at that point.
"We decided to attack Yuvraj Singh and wanted to get under his skin. We tried our hearts out, but he played pretty well today," he said.
In summing up the Test and declining to pick on individual failures, Pietersen stated categorically: "We will not offer any excuses for our defeat. I will not pick on individual players. We win as a team and lose as a team."