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IPL parties cost us at T20 World Cup, says Dhoni

cricket Updated: May 13, 2010 01:38 IST
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Towards the end of this year's Indian Premier League, when we could spare the time from the Indian Cricket Board's headline grabbing shenanigans, some of us wondered about how India's players, caught in a circus where they played intense games, travelled, met sponsors commitments and showed up at nightly parties, would cope in the World T20 in the Caribbean

After all, it even sounded exhausting.

On Tuesday evening here, after India were knocked out of the world cup without winning a Super Eights game for the second successive year, skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni finally admitted, however reluctantly, that the frenetic pace of the IPL cost India dear.

"Players need to be smart. You have to respect your body. If you are playing a late-night match and then you go to a party and then you have to travel again the next day, it's difficult," said Dhoni, not offering an excuse, but introspecting.

"IPL is not only about cricket. If you don't take care of your body then IPL is draining. It does take a toll, travelling constantly, soon after you've played a game."

Whatever his intention, back home, the India captain's comments raised a storm, especially coming on the back of an earlier statement, where he pointed out that the IPL wasn't exactly ideal preparation for a world cup, given the difference in quality between the two events.

Anil Kumble, a former India skipper and captain of the Royal Challengers Bangalore, raised an equally damning cricketing point about the IPL effect in his column for the HT.

"India could probably have done some things differently even while realising this wasn't the IPL. The pressure during the IPL is very different, the continual pressure for instance, for you to perform from franchises. It's all quite intense," said Kumble.

"Perhaps the players felt more in their comfort zone when they went back into an Indian set up and it cost them. It sounds odd but it makes sense," Kumble said.

The facts of the matter are simple. Despite lifelines coming their way in the form of permutations and combinations, India failed to capitalise and win a single Super 8 match.

The question of self-belief cannot be ignored, with Dhoni almost ruling out India's entry to the final four days before it happened. "That would be asking too much," Dhoni had said after the loss to the West Indies.

"We're taking the last game (against Sri Lanka) as an opportunity to play some good cricket and pick up a win that would be a consolation prize."

On the day when it mattered most, India played like they did not believe they belonged. After reaching 90 for 1 in 10 overs, they only managed 73 in the second half, despite having wickets in hand, never once able to force the issue.

Several problems exist, from IPL fatigue to inadequacies against short-pitched bowling, and it's only set to get worse. In 2011 the IPL expands to 94 matches from 60 and begins just days after the one-day World Cup, in what will become peak summer across the nation.

Top BCCI officials have confided that they are worried about the workload on the players, but then again, they say they are helpless. "The IPL's too big now, money-wise," one official told HT.

So what happens to the players and the team? We'll have to see. On the evening they were knocked out, the players were scrambling in different directions.

Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, Gautam Gambhir and Yusuf Pathan headed to Razmatazz, an Indian restaurant, to get a home-style meal. Yuvraj, Ravindra Jadeja and Rohit Sharma were poolside, wondering exactly what to do with their last night in the Caribbean. Suresh Raina, who had locked himself out of his own room, was blundering about in a beach towel, trying to find his way back.

On a larger scale, so will India.