South Africa v India, 3rd ODI, Cape Town November 26, 2006

'We were outplayed in all departments' - Chappell

Shame on the rookies: Veteran Anil Kumble runs out Mark Boucher by smartly deflecting the ball onto the stumps © Getty Images

Greg Chappell wasn't a happy man after a game in which India had South Africa in deep strife at 76 for 6, and yet managed to capitulate to an 106-run defeat. He insisted that there was no easy answers and no obvious solutions as the team continued on the downward spiral in the one-day game. After winning 21 of 29 matches last season, they have managed just three wins from 14 matches since.

"We were outplayed in all departments of the game," said Chappell, who added that the dropped catches - South Africa took all their chances - made all the difference. "We are not playing well enough. That's the basic problem. Too many players are out of form, key players are not doing well.

"I am not sure whether there is a solution other than working hard. We have to try and turn things around. It has got to come from the players. They've got to dig deep and find a way to do it."

He refused to single out individuals for criticism, and said that tactics like trying Dinesh Karthik in the middle order would continue to be employed until a corner was turned. "We are struggling and we need to try something different," he said. "Indian batting teams with better credentials have struggled under these conditions before. The ball bouncing between waist and chest is not something that happens regularly in India. It takes some adjusting and I don't think we are doing it well at the moment.

"There has got to be a big physical and big mental effort. We've got into winning positions but haven't finished them off. There are some critical areas where we are falling off. We missed a few opportunities after they were 76 for 6 and that was the turning point of the game."

When asked whether the failure of the other batsmen to deliver heaped even more pressure on Rahul Dravid's shoulders, Chappell said: "It puts a lot of pressure on the captain, but then again that comes with the territory. There's a lot of responsibility on him. He's a key player and he's expected to do well. But he needs support. You can't rely on one or two players. There has to be a consistent effort from the team."

Following the 157-run defeat at Kingsmead, there had been calls in parliament for Chappell to be sacked. When asked about such remarks, he said, tongue firmly in cheek, "They are entitled to make any comment they like. That's what they are paid to do in parliament." As for the fans, whose mood turns uglier with each reverse, he could only say: "There's not much you can say at this stage. This is the squad we've got till the end of the series, and we've got to work hard."

At the moment, hard work alone looks unlikely to salvage this series. A flash of inspiration like that provided by Justin Kemp today is what the team is crying out for, but in these conditions, it's hard to see where it's going to come from.

Dileep Premachandran is features editor of Cricinfo