Mirpur: An exhausted and disappointed Indian cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni found it tough to explain Yuvraj Singh's painstakingly slow batting in the lost World Twenty20 final against Sri Lanka but insisted that the under-fire player tried his best.
Yuvraj Singh's 21-ball 11 was a major factor in India totalling a mere 130 after being put in to bat last night. Sri Lanka overhauled the target in 17.5 overs after losing just four wickets.
Yuvraj Singh. Pic/ AFP
"It was an off day for Yuvraj. He tried his best but it's not easy to come in and start slogging from ball one," Dhoni said at the post-match press conference where most of the questions centred on Yuvraj's performance. There were a few which Dhoni completely deflected during his shortest media interaction in the whole tournament. Was there a message for Yuvraj when he got stuck in the middle, Dhoni said, "No he was just trying his best. That's the most you can do."
Dhoni was specifically asked about Yuvraj's future in the team considering others have more or less performed their duties or at least have age on their side. The smiling skipper gave an open-ended reply. "Indian cricket season is over, and now we have all domestic tournaments including the Indian Premier League. The next selection is far away so let's not talk about it."
There had been angry reactions from the fans and Dhoni got a bit serious while answering a query. "Look, you need to understand that fans can be angry but they can't be more disappointed than the individual who is out there in the middle. As a player you don't want to do badly in front of 40000 people. You don't want to drop catches. But off days happen. And it can happen with any athlete. May be it was an off-day for him (Yuvraj). "Fans will be disappointed but it is the player who is always more disappointed than the fans," he explained.
When asked if Yuvraj's innings "robbed the team" of momentum, Dhoni seemed like wanting to put an end to the endless queries. "It's a team thing. So let us not talk about individuals."
Dhoni also tried hard to explain the reason for sending Yuvraj ahead of Suresh Raina at No 4. "Most of our batsmen take time to hit the big shots and it is only Raina, who can start hitting big from the onset. That was the reason that we sent Yuvi up the order at No 4."
Dhoni was all praise for the Sri Lankan team, especially the manner they bowled "wide yorkers" at the death. "We wanted to score as many runs as possible in last four overs but credit to Lankan bowlers. They bowled perfect wide yorkers. I for one, know that Malinga bowls these superb wide yorkers. They got only one wide during that phase. They executed their plans brilliantly. "We were a bit disappointed at the break for not having scored more than 130 but then we were thinking about Champions Trophy. It was also a 20-over match but here we had one fielder more outside the circle," the skipper said.
As for why he didn't start with his best bowler Ravichandran Ashwin, Dhoni defended the move saying, "We wanted to use Ashwin in middle overs against left-handers. So we couldn't start with him. But the pacers went for runs and I had to bring him early and he also got a wicket." "Also the wicket changed a bit under lights as the ball started coming onto the bat," he added.
Dhoni tried to count the positives from the tournament, having been consistent right from the practice match against England. "The spinners have bowled well as they got a bit of help and turn from the track. Virat (Kohli) has been brilliant for us as he has been in the last one and half years and even more. We were consistent from start and hence there weren't too many changes in the playing XI."
Yuvraj Singh's father Yograj tonight came out in defence of his son, saying the left-handed batsman, who struggled for his 11 runs off 21 balls, should not be singled out for India's loss in the ICC World T20 final.
"Yuvraj should not be singled out," Yograj said when asked if his son consuming 21 deliveries was the main reason behind India loosing the title clash against Sri Lanka at Mirpur. Even as Virat Kohli struck his fourth half century of the tournament with yet another superb effort but Lankan bowlers applied brakes on a struggling Yuvraj which certainly hampered the scoring rate to a large extent.
Yuvraj turned out to be a disaster as he looked completely out of sorts which even frustrated the in-form batsman at the other end. The last four overs produced only 19 runs due to Yuvraj's failure to get big hits. But Yograj said when a team loses, there is widespread criticism from all quarters.
"When we loose their is criticism from all sides. Ups and downs are part of life and part of this game as well," he said. Referring to the lean patch Yuvraj has gone through in recent times, Yograj said, "When a player some times goes through lean patch, the state of mind becomes such that he starts thinking if he does not make runs he may be out of the team or the team may lose."
"When West Indies lost the 1983 World Cup to India, Sir Viv Richards went to Indian dressing room and congratulated the team saying they played better cricket and deserved to win," he said, adding that the sportsman's spirit in the game was more important. He felt Yuvraj should play more domestic cricket and suggested that he should also spend some days with his father to receive coaching tips.