MIRPUR, Bangladesh, (Reuters) – India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni sprang to team mate Yuvraj Singh’s defence after the left-hander’s struggle with the bat in the World Twenty20 final loss to Sri Lanka yesterday.
Struggling to hit or rotate 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.
The lefthander, who hit England’s Stuart Broad for six sixes in an over in the 2007 World Twenty20, used up 21 deliveries towards the end to score 11 runs, failing even to rotate strike and allow the set batsman and player-of-the-tournament Virat Kohli (77) to launch a late assault.
India managed 19 runs in the last four overs despite having eight wickets in hand and Kohli faced just eight balls in the last four overs before running himself out as India settled for a below-par 130 for four.
Dhoni conceded 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.
He refused, however, 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.”
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.”
The India 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.”