After losing all the Tests in a series they would have been hopeful of doing well in, Kane Williamson managed to retain some humour, but he knew his side was done in by a mix of difficult conditions for them, the quality of their opposition in those conditions, and their own lack of application at times. In packed schedules nowadays, you hardly get time to acclimatise, which means you don't have too many second chances. The most disappointing aspect for New Zealand will be that when they got a surface in Indore that resembled classic Indian pitches, they couldn't bat for long enough. It didn't help that they never won a toss, and India always were in the ascendency.
When asked about R Ashwin's hold on him - the leading wicket-taker of the series took out Williamson all four times he batted - Williamson joked: "He didn't get me out 27 times. He got a few other blokes out too."
On a serious note, Williamson did make a mention of the conditions. "He's a good bowler,'" Williamson said of Ashwin. "We're always learning playing internationals. I guess it's a new thing, personally as well. Come over here with so much rough, which is nice to bowl into. I suppose I was a victim of it a few times. I guess, when you are put in that situation where you are dismissed in a similar situation, you are able to learn and try to improve from that. The conditions guys are exposed to, and the quality of bowling, in a backhanded way, we can be thankful for those experiences that help move your game forward."
Even before the season began, India had a good chance of going unbeaten through a long season of 13 home Tests. New Zealand, on paper, seemed the team likeliest to challenge India, which will now make India look invincible this season. Williamson, though, felt - and it did bring out some laughs - that the toss can be crucial in these conditions. The previous home season had a shift in the pitches India play on, and they have won all seven tosses since then.
"Winning the toss would be helpful, I think," Williamson said, when asked what advice he could give to the teams that are following him in India's home season. "Which is a challenge in itself: South Africa lost every toss as well. Certainly have to be at your best. Whether you win the toss, lose the toss, India were far superior in this series. It depends on the surfaces. Every surface has been different in this series, they were different in the South Africa series. Whether it is a good one… it is important to spend time at the crease, creating pressure. Batting first would be nice. It would help, certainly, in being more competitive. This India side is a very good team, and they certainly know these conditions better than anyone."
Williamson said that while the conditions were more difficult when they batted in Indore, this was a pitch where they could have played more assured cricket. Speaking on finding the right balance between defence and attack, Williamson said: "It is a challenge, certainly on wickets very conducive to spin that make attacking tough as well. Sometimes, being positive when it is doing a little bit more is the way forward. It is up to the individual how they want to skin it, but in this Test, which was probably a little bit more like Test matches of old where it's that war of attrition and you have to play long game like India showed, as opposed to Test matches prior, where 300 was a very good score, where you go out there and play positively and you get them before they get you, here was a little bit different.
"They exploited conditions better than us. They played very patiently with the bat, and batting was not easy when it came our time. Not just because conditions had deteriorated, but the very good bowling attack they have. Important that we come away from here, although frustrated, having learnt a huge amount as a young group being exposed in these conditions."
Williamson didn't shy away from giving India the credit and said he was disappointed his team couldn't adapt quickly enough, but added that in conditions so challenging he felt the need to send players early for more experience.
"The more you can play in these conditions, the better you'll be," Williamson said. "That has to be a given. The more experiences you get in any conditions, it is a good thing. People talk a lot about county cricket and then, when you go to England, you certainly are far more aware of what to expect. I suppose this is no different. If guys can have more experience in these conditions, it will certainly be helpful."
When asked if he felt his side had spent enough time here before the series, Williamson brought up the practical issue of the packed schedules. "I suppose there is always those discussions," Williamson said. "Another tough point as well is that you are playing so much international cricket, it is tricky to get that extra preparation you would like. So, you are having to learn on the job a bit, which is the nature of the beast, but at the same time, it is an important thing. Whether it's 'A' teams where guys are able to get extra time to come over, particularly in these conditions where you are playing more and more cricket. India's home summer this year is 13 Test matches. So you are playing more and more in these conditions."
New Zealand now have the five-ODI series to look forward to, which will be played on flatter surfaces. Williamson hoped the team doesn't carry the scars of losing the Tests into that series. "Disappointing to lose the Test series," he said. "At the same time, the guys are looking forward to the change of format. It will be tough again. We know India are a very good side at that as well. It's exciting. We know that wickets will more than likely be quite different again.
"We have got to adapt. Go out and play with that freedom, knowing that when we do play with that freedom, we play our best cricket. There will be a little bit of scarring coming out of a three-nil Test defeat. Obviously winning is a lot better than losing. Unfortunately we have lost a few on the trot, but nice to have new personnel come in who are fresh and looking forward to the one-day series."