London : Indian captain M.S. Dhoni apologized to Indian cricket fans after crashing out of the ICC Twenty20 championship Sunday but rejected suggestions that exhaustion from playing too many games caused the failure of his top batsmen.
“We are sorry for what happened but we can say we gave our best,” Dhoni told a news conference after losing to England by three wickets before thousands of Indian supporters at Lord’s cricket ground in London.
“We had experienced guys who can handle the pressure. It was a day when nothing much worked for us.”
“India is an emotional country,” Dhoni said, adding: “We are more disappointed than them (Indian fans).”
But Dhoni denied repeated suggestions at the press conference that Indian players were exhausted from playing too many matches in the Indian Premier League (IPL).
“You can’t blame it on tiredness. It’s not an excuse,” the Indian skipper said, adding playing more matches was better for players.
“It is a demanding format because you play at different venues. It’s not like you play three or four games at the same point,” he said.
“If you see me and say he’s not giving his hundred percent then hold me responsible. Performance is a different matter.”
“We didn’t really perform well as a team.”
Dhoni, however, admitted that he was failing to fire his guns while batting, having scored only three boundaries and not a single six in a knock of 30 Sunday that was relatively sedate by his explosive standards.
“I’m not comfortably clearing the park – that’s for sure. I’m working hard on it, and hopefully I’ll be back with hitting sixes.”
Dhoni said he elected to field after winning the toss because the wicket plays “a bit better” under the lights.
He gave credit to England’s battery of pace bowlers, who fired a steady stream of short-pitched shoulder-high balls at the Indian batsmen, working to a game plan.
“Their bowlers started well. They were aggressive and used the bouncer and the short ball well,” Dhoni said.
“They bowled the bouncer really well. They used the short balls and mixed them with slower bouncers. There are quite a few lessons to be learnt from this, hopefully during the time we have off from here, we can really look to work on this area.”
“The run rate climbed and the timing of the wickets was crucial. We failed with the bat. There is no excuse.”
He said the decision to promote Ravindra Jadeja in the batting order was taken to help stabilize the Indian innings.
“Yuvraj could have gone in higher but we expected Jadeja to play for a few overs and stabilize the innings for us.
“It was unfortunate that Yuvraj was out that way (by stumping)�. It was one of those days.”
“We lost wickets at unfortunate times. If the opposition score 153 runs and you are not able to score them there is no excuse.
“If the run-rate was close to nine or 10 an over I thought we could achieve that but the timing of wickets was crucial and the run-rate really climbed on us.”
However, Dhoni promised India will bounce back at the next Twenty20 World Cup in the Caribbean.
“We lost in the 2007 World Cup and we lost in 50 overs, that was the worst part of my career. This loss is disappointing but still I don’t think it comes near to the loss we had in the 50-over World Cup.
“We were never really up to the mark but in nine months’ time there will be another World Cup and that is the only good thing we can say now.
“We’ll try to do well.”
“Cricket never tests your character when you are doing really well. It tests you when you are not doing well. I think this is a testing time for us but it’s not the end of the road.”
Asked if injured opener Virender Sehwag’s absence had an impact on India’s performance, Dhoni said: “He is the sort of player you can’t really replace – we missed him. When he starts off the bowler is under pressure. He’s a great player to have in your side.”
He said Sehwag’s replacement Rohit Sharma “did the job in percentage terms”.