Dhoni, Kirsten differ on causes of WorldT20 debacle

Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and coach Gary Kirsten sharply disagreed on the causes of the team's early exit from the World Twenty20.

updated: June 17, 2009 08:28 IST
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Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and coach Gary Kirsten sharply disagreed on the causes of the team's early exit from the World Twenty20.

After India's shock defeat at the hands of England in the last Super Eight match, Dhoni had told journalists that he would not blame the Indian Premier League for the debacle.

However, Kirsten said too much of cricket by his team and the timing of IPL were the main reasons for India not being able to defend their title in England and hinted that he may pull out his players from next edition of the IPL to keep them fit.

Kirsten said the fatigue factor and injuries sustained by the players in IPL took a toll on Dhoni and his players. "A lot of our cricketers carried niggles in this tournament. We picked up niggles in the IPL and lost contact with them," Kirsten told reporters here.

The former South African opener's views were in stark contrast to what Dhoni had said immediately after India's ouster on Sunday.

"It's demanding but I wouldn't offer it as excuse. I wouldn't blame IPL. But I don't think anybody say that my team or I didn't give our 100 per cent in matches. If they say, that would spoil the party for me. Performing or not performing is a different issue. I'm not worried about it," Dhoni had said after the heart-breaking three-run loss to England.

But Kirsten contradicted Dhoni by dismissing the idea that playing IPL could actually prepare the Indian team play better.

"It's a domestic competition. There are a few top cricketers and then first class cricketers making up the rest.

"There is a reasonably big gap between IPL and international cricket. When the best 11 players are representing a country, naturally the standard is going to go up substantially," he said.

India managed easy wins against minnows Bangladesh and Ireland in the preliminary stages of the T20 World Cup while losing against the West Indies and England to end their campaign in the tournament.

The next World T20 will be held next year in April-May in the West Indies.

Kirsten minced no words and said Indian team was not fresh and fit to take on tough opponents after the IPL, which came close on the heels of excessive international cricket since January.

"We were not as energetic as we were in New Zealand... we were relatively tired when we arrived here. We have been on the road since end of January.

"We were not sure if we should increase the training or give sufficient rest. In the end, we gave them as much rest as we could so that they could be pumped up for important games."

"But then we had relatively easy games against Bangladesh and Ireland. We then came up against the West Indies and were found wanting. We realised how tough the battle could be against a high quality international side," Kirsten said.

The coach claimed that because of niggles a lot of his players were not in the best of form and their problems against short-pitched deliveries thus got magnified.

"If we could have executed our skills the way we wanted to, we could have won the game. In Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina, we have two incredibly talented young cricketers for India for one especially the going has been tough in this tournament.

"But I have no doubt he would come through and continue to make his mark. We have played short-pitched bowling in other conditions so that's something which is not new," Kirsten said.

The former South African opener said a lot of players in the side had taken this defeat badly and how they recover from it would decide how prepared they are to improve. The first evidence could come when Indians play last Super Eight game against South Africa.

"We are bitterly disappointed. We haven't done something people could be proud of. I saw 15 faces in the changing room and some of them were really hurt. We have come to expect good performances and so it hurt."

"MS (Dhoni) then said where do we move from here. We need to be positive and pick ourselves up. We have to go and win tomorrow and give it everything," Dhoni said.

Kirsten, however, praised Dhoni and described him as one of the most exceptional leaders that he had seen in his life.

"He is an extremely professional cricketer. He is one of the most exceptional leaders that I have seen in any walks of my life. He is able to separate the other things from his cricket and is extremely focused. He is one of the greatest finishers in the game of cricket.

"We feel in high profile game, he is the one who can close out game for us. We wanted to save Yuvraj, Dhoni and Pathan for the final 12 overs of the innings," he added.

Kirsten though admitted that Dhoni was still just about figuring out his game in Twenty20 cricket.

"In 50-overs game, he is one of the greatest finishers the game has seen. He is trying to do it in Twenty20 cricket as well. He also wants to balance it with his big hitting. His batting is improving, he is a fast learner and he would come good," he said.