Dhoni refuses to blame IPL for India exit

Nov 30, -0001
NEW DELHI: India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni insisted it was wrong to blame the Indian Premier League (IPL) for his side's failure to reach the semi-finals of the World Twenty20.

As was the case at last year's edition in England, India were unable to get through to the last four after the bulk of their players came into the event on the back of a congested fixture list in the Twenty20 IPL domestic competition.

India lost all of their Super Eights matches in the Caribbean and bowed out with a five-wicket defeat by Sri Lanka, who ultimately went through to the knockout stages, here on Tuesday.

They needed to win by at least 20 runs to keep their own slim semi-final hopes alive.

But that prize was denied them when Chamara Kapugedera struck a Vinay Kumar full toss for six off the penultimate ball of the 19th over, a shot that effectively knocked India out of the tournament.

And there wasn't even a consolation victory as Sri Lanka, who needed three off the last ball, won the match with Kapugedera's six off Ashish Nehra.

However, Dhoni fought shy of suggestions his players were suffering IPL-induced fatigue.

"If you take care of yourself, 45 days of cricket shouldn't affect you because we play 200 or more in a year," the wicketkeeper/batsman told reporters at the Beausejour Stadium.

"I've had no setbacks because of the IPL but at the same time players need to be smart because IPL is not only about cricket. You have to respect your body and if you don't do that then the IPL is draining," he added.

And Dhoni said the IPL had been beneficial to the development of several young India players.

"If you see the kind of players we have got in the last three years, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, we have players who have done well in the IPL and come in for India. The IPL really has helped us to groom youngsters."

Dhoni was at a loss to explain the form of a team which looked well-placed to challenge for the title.

"We are not performing to our potential that's for sure, apart from that I can't really say much, we certainly didn't come here to loss games that's for certain, we gave 100 percent.

"This is the best (squad of) 15 you can get in India when it comes to the T20 format. At the end of the day, if you are outplayed and the opposition plays really well there is nothing much you can really do."

Australia quicks Dirk Nannes and Shaun Tait took six wickets between them as the tournament pace-setters beat India by 49 runs last week and Dhoni admitted how to handle fast, short-pitched, bowling was an issue for his team.

"I think most of us have that problem because we come from a place where we don't have bowlers bowling 145-150kph plus and we don't have wickets that bounce a lot.

"We are good players of spin bowling and that's our strength. You shouldn't be that ashamed of saying we don't play short pitched bowling that well, especially in a format like this where you have 20 overs, you have to play your shots," the big-hitting Dhoni added.

"I think we can always improve but if we have a problem, we have a problem."AGENCIES






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