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Dhoni comes to Yuvraj's defence, says he tried his best

Last updated on: April 07, 2014 16:47 IST

Dhoni comes to Yuvraj's defence, says he tried his best

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Mahendra Singh Dhoni unconvincingly defended Yuvraj Singh, whose painstaking 21-ball 11 in the ICC WT20 final against Sri Lanka, on Sunday, put paid to India's hopes of a historic treble.

Struggling to hit or rotate the strike, Yuvraj looked a shadow of the player who was the architect of India's 20-over World Cup victory in 2007 and the 50-overs World Cup in 2011.

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"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," said Dhoni, at the post-match press conference.

He, however, refused to blame Yuvraj, who, barring a half-century against Australia, had a poor tournament.

"He was trying... the thing is he was trying and that's the most you can do.

"It happens to all, not just cricketers. Yuvi tried his best; it was an off day for him. It's not easy for a batsman to go out and straight away start slogging."

India managed just 19 runs in the last four overs despite having eight wickets in hand.

Virat Kohli (77) faced just eight balls in the last four overs before running himself out as India settled for a below-par 130 for four.

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Image: India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni
Photographs: Gareth Copley/Getty Images

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'Any athlete can have an off-day'

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Dhoni was specifically asked about Yuvraj's future in the current set-up, 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 was angry reaction 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 40,000 people. You don't want to drop catches. But off-days happen, and it can happen with any athlete.

When someone 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," he replied.

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Image: Yuvraj Singh
Photographs: Scott Barbour/Getty Images
Tags: Dhoni , Yuvraj

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'All credit to Sri Lanka bowlers'

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Asked why he did not promote himself ahead of Yuvraj, Dhoni said: "We wanted a left-right combination to make it slightly difficult for the bowlers to execute their plans. That was the reason why we had Yuvi at number four."

India's captain preferred to credit the Sri Lankan bowlers for restricting his team.

"We have to give credit to the Sri Lankan bowlers. They were looking for wide yorkers and all were perfect, wide yorkers.

"Other than one wide delivery, they were right on the mark, which made it difficult for us to score freely."

Dhoni conceded that the last four overs probably cost India the trophy, which would have completed a record limited-overs treble' for the 50-over World Cup and Champions Trophy holders.

"The last four is the place where you really want to score as many runs as you can. That was an area we could not capitalise [on]," Dhoni said.

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Image: Angelo Mathews celebrates after dismissing Ajinkya Rahane
Photographs: Scott Barbour/Getty Images

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Dhoni delves on the positives

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As for why he did not start with his best bowler, Ravichandran Ashwin, Dhoni defended the move saying, "We wanted to use Ashwin in the 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 preferred 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 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 eleven." 


Image: Virat Kohli (right) celebrates victory against South Africa as India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni looks on
Photographs: Scott Barbour/Getty Images

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