St Lucia: India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni refused to blame the IPL for the team’s Twenty20 World Cup debacle but conceded that after-match parties and hectic travelling during the glitzy league did take a toll on the players’ fitness.
“Most of the players were fit and fresh. Players also need to be smart, not only about cricket but about other things going around in the IPL. We have to respect your body and give some time for it to recover because there is more to it than playing matches. Attending parties and travelling takes a toll,” Dhoni said after India’s five-wicket loss against Sri Lanka on Tuesday that knocked them out of the event.
The defeat was also India’s third successive in the Super Eights stage, a disappointing low for the inaugural champions.
Dhoni said the six-week-long IPL was in itself not responsible for the debacle.
“Our performance does not have anything to do with IPL,” said Dhoni.
“I wouldn’t say the IPL was a set back for our preparation. In fact, it has helped us in match preparation for the World Cup. It has thrown up players like (Suresh) Raina, Rohit (Sharma), (Ravindra) Jadeja, (Pragyan) Ohja and (Amit) Mishra. It has groomed a lot of talent.”
Dhoni rejected criticism of the team and said he is least affected by what is said about it.
“As Far as the sloganeering goes, I am not bothered about that. We try and do our best. We play for our country and we are more respectful to our country than those who do these sort of things. They can do whatever they want to,” fumed Dhoni.
He said Indian had done their best although the results have not been too good.
“Whenever we go out there we try to do well. But you won’t do well every time. We tried our best and did whatever we could have, but we still ended up being on the losing side,” said a despondent Dhoni.
The wicketkeeper-batsman commended the Sri Lankans for their all-round show on Tuesday.
“They batted really well in the end overs. Also, they bowled very well after the 13th over and made it difficult for us to score.
“They were looking to bowl yorkers and to keep the ball outside off stump. You can’t do much when someone bowls perfect yorkers. Me and Raina were out there in the middle. It was really tough. But we were looking to slog everything thing,” he said.