LONDON: Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Monday blamed his batsmen for the humiliating 0-4 whitewash at the hands of an inspired England team.
"We never put par score on the board. Runs are important to put pressure on the other side. Our batting should have performed better," stated the Indian captain, looking and sounding as calm as ever.
Dhoni’s ire was justified after they lost their final seven wickets for 21 runs including the skipper who seemed to be getting out in the same manner time and again.
"The collapse wasn’t good. We thought there was a situation when we should be able to defend this game and play for a draw. We were not able to build partnerships and that was the reason."
Injuries played a huge part in India’s performance and from Zaheer to Sehwag to Gambhir to Harbhajan, everyone kept pulling out of the team at important junctures.
There was also the question if players had rushed back without being fully fit as the suspicion is on the issue of Zaheer and Sehwag.
"Zaheer’s was a different injury. It wasn’t shoulder or ankle but a hamstring injury which troubled him. It’s difficult one for me to answer. Once you give a fitness report, it’s different. Now whether it’s given or not is another different issue. When it concerns people like Zaheer and Sehwag, you wait for them so they are available for selection for you know what difference they can make."
Dhoni termed coming back from injury as an individual’s decision.
"For each individual, it’s important to realize where they are when it comes to physical part of the game. You can always push yourself but only an individual realizes how much is left in him before he injures himself…it’s an individual decision.
"May be a time would come when people would feel that I should skip the series or else I would get injured."
Dhoni also mentioned about the pressure when there is a constant expectations with an Indian team to keep playing and winning even when they could be tired.
"Expectations are very high. It doesn’t allow youngsters to come in. We are always expected to win. So you have players who have been playing for 5-7 years. It takes a toll on them. Everyone wants to play as many games as possible."
The Indian captain believed youngsters should be inducted in the side and they should be given a proper run so they are ready.
"It’s important to have bench strength. If you keep playing the same bowlers, don’t give exposure to youngsters, they might be forced to play Test cricket straightaway which could be difficult for them. You need to plan a bit."
"We have had players who have been around for 15 years. Then there were those who straightaway made an impression. But you are not expected to get such players always.
He stressed on the need for grooming young players. "You need to groom young players. You don’t need to shuffle them if they fail. You need to give them confidence so they are ready when they are thrown at the top level."
The wicketkeeper-batsman sided with Rahul Dravid’s observation that this Indian team had lesser skills to England.
"We have the talent.. but in a tough series you want your best players. We were lacking it here."
Dhoni didn’t believe all the talk about Sachin Tendulkar and his impending 100th hundred was a distraction for his side.
"Sachin’s 100th hundred is only asked about in press conferences. Once we go to dressing room, we don’t think about it. All of us know what kind of cricketer he is. One good day and he would score a good amount of runs. We are not worried, Sachin is also not worried, hopefully he will get it in the one-day series."
Things also didn’t go well for Duncan Fletcher who’s just starting his coaching stint with the Indian team.
"It can only get better for Fletcher. Only place he can go from here is up…he must also be feeling bad…he also needs time to study individuals…it’s good he has seen the tough part, what he will see now is good part."
Dhoni was adamant the drubbing in this series wouldn’t diminish his enthusiasm for the game.
"I don’t believe in surrendering. The job was given to me when I wasn’t expecting it. I am giving it my best shot."
The Indian captain had great words of praise for Rahul Dravid who slammed three centuries in the four-Test series.
"He’s brilliant. He loves England, he loves scoring here. He batted at different slots and that makes it more special. When team is not performing, the one who performs feels more pressure because he knows he is expected to do well. He was truly brilliant."
Dhoni didn’t feel it’s right to blame Indian Premier League ( IPL) for the debacle.
As for Gambhir’s injury, he said the left-hander had blurred vision and he was finding it tough to spot the ball.(PTI)