A day which began with much promise, ended in despair for the India players when South Africa took Dhoni & Co down with them.
Victory would have never felt as sour as the India players trooped out of the R Premadasa Stadium with drooping shoulders and glum faces. Such performances usually have grave repercussions, starting with a dressing down from the coach. That is what the India players would have expected when they took their seats in the dressing room.
For half an hour it was an atmosphere of mourning in the India camp. Everyone sat in silence, and no one as much as even placed a hand on each other's shoulder. Virat Kohli, the star performer, had taken the early exit quite badly. Understanding the players' disappointment, the team management gave them the emotional space to regain their composure. Things started to get normal gradually and slowly the analysis started.
The coach then addressed the team, but there was no dressing down. Instead, his talk was mainly to console the team.
"Nothing happened (the coach was not upset). He spoke to the boys explaining to them that with four wins out of five, they were plain unlucky. He thanked everyone, and made special mention of the attitude shown by Manoj Tiwary, who didn't play any match in the tournament but carried on gamely. As also Harbhajan Singh, who was dropped from the team after a couple of games. He told the boys to go back and start afresh," manager Sanjay Patel told Hindustan Times.
The India players left in batches on Wednesday, with all the Delhi members leaving by the afternoon flight. The Mumbai-bound Zaheer Khan, Irfan Pathan, Rohit Sharma and Yuvraj Singh took the night flight. The coaching staff will also be with their families in the coming days. Coach Fletcher will be going to South Africa, but till late afternoon was having problems getting his ticket.