Gros Islet (St. Lucia, West Indies), May 12 (ANI): Having been shown the door from the World Twenty20 Cup by Sri Lanka on Tuesday, Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, copping criticism from all and sundry, said players turning out for India, needed to respect their bodies and be smart about playing in late night games such as the Indian Premier League (IPL).
Admitting that his side was tired after playing in the IPL and the World Twenty20 Cup within a gap of a few days, he said that was the reality of being an Indian cricketer. He said his side didn't play to its potential, losing all their Super Eight matches, yet he found nothing wrong in either the IPL or the scheduling.
Speaking after Sri Lanka had handed India a five-wicket defeat, Dhoni said: "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, the IPL is draining."
He also candidly admitted that his team had failed in all departments of the game, but added that it had not come to the West Indies to lose.
Former cricketer Ravi Shastri, who is in the West Indies as a commentator and expert, said the Indian team had failed tactically and was Dhoni's worst performance as skipper. Another veteran Madan Lal said Dhoni and his team were simply making excuses for what was a very bad performance.
Former Indian opener and national team coach Anshuman Gaekwad said the team came up short in all departments of the game, as also in strategy.
Former Indian middle-order batsman Sanjay Manjrekar said: "It is only natural for people to say that the IPL tired the Indian players and once again after an IPL season India hasn't played well in an IPL tournament."
"The two critical games that India lost against Australia and West Indies were purely because the top-order batsmen couldn't cop with the short deliveries. That cannot be attributed to the IPL. It is a technical weakness they have," he added.
"The IPL could have been a contributing factor, but I think this performance has to do with the basics of some of the top-order batsmen. I would not hold the IPL as responsible as some of the technical frailties of the top-order batsmen have remained unaddressed," he said.
Sri Lanka's defeat of India allows it to go through to the semi-finals.
For the record, India made 163, but the target for the Sri Lankans was 143. They got there with the help of contributions from skipper Kumar Sangakkara, opening bat Tillakaratne Dilshan, all-rounder Angelo Mathew and batsman Chamara Kapugedara.
Kumar Sangakkara and Angelo Mathews made 46 each, Dilshan scored 33, while Kapugedara got 37.
For India, Suresh Raina hammered 63 from 47 balls with seven fours and a six while opener Gautam Gambhir made 41 off 32 balls. Debutant pacer Vinay Kumar claimed two wickets for 30 runs.
For Sri Lanka, fast bowler Lasith Malinga and Thilan Thushara claimed two wickets each while Thissara Perera took a wicket. (ANI)