Rejecting suggestions that selection goof-ups led to India's humiliating defeat in the first Test against South Africa, chairman of selectors Krishnamachari Srikkanth on Monday said he is ready to face the sack if held responsible for the debacle.
India lost the match by an innings and six runs on Tuesday and former players and critics felt the team desperately missed a specialist batsman in the absence of the injured duo of Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman.
Laxman's cover Rohit Sharma injured himself just minutes before the toss, forcing the selection of rookie Wriddhiman Saha, who was initially picked in the squad as a reserve wicketkeeper.
But Srikkanth refuted the criticism, saying that the selectors cannot be held responsible if a reserve batsman also ends up on the injured list on the morning of the match.
"The whole thing would not have blown up had Rohit played. The questions that are being raised are about Saha's selection... he is actually a wicketkeeper who can bat a bit. But he proved himself well in the match," Srikkanth told CNN-IBN.
"As the chairman of the selection panel, I am willing to own up responsibility. It's a lesson learnt and from now on, we will not select players who are not 100 per cent fit," he said, referring to Laxman's selection in the squad despite the uncertainty over his availability ahead of the match.
"It's a team game and individuals cannot be blamed. You can blame the selectors. You can fire me; I would accept it gracefully. But let's admit that South Africa played really well. We should accept defeat gracefully and move on," said Srikkanth.
He insisted that the team selected was the best available given the injury list.
"I don't think selection was an issue. It's like if the team wins, all is fine; but if it loses then everybody blames the selectors. I am not shying away from the responsibility. Whatever happened on the first morning of the match was freakish. If a player gets injured just 15 minutes before the toss, I don't think you can blame anyone," he said.
"In hindsight, we didn't have Rahul (Dravid), who is a fantastic player of fast bowling. Laxman was injured. We were hopeful of his recovery but unfortunately that didn't happen and then Rohit got injured. So, I would say it was fate," he added.
Srikkanth said despite the Nagpur debacle, which has left India trailing 0-1 in the two-match series, the home side is quite capable of bouncing back in the Kolkata Test, starting on Sunday.
"The team is good. Laxman will definitely be back for Kolkata and that will bolster the batting. I am sure our team will fight back. Winning and losing are part and parcel of cricket," he said.
Lavishing praise on the visiting South Africans, Srikkanth said credit must be given to their outstanding bowling display in the Nagpur Test -- the star of which was the fiery pacer Dale Steyn, who took 10 wickets in the match.
"I think South Africa played better cricket. They batted well and bowled brilliantly. Steyn was amazing. If a fast bowler can move the ball at that pace, then we have to give him credit. Let's give credit to South Africa instead of criticising anyone," he said.