New Delhi:Team India is back home from its Caribbean misadventure and skipper MS Dhoni and his boys have to answer some tough questions. Not least, those asked by an angry coach on fitness and commitment. The BCCI too has echoed an all-India sentiment when it says it is very disappointed with the team's performance.
But as players started returning after a 28-hour flight, top BCCI sources also made clear that no extreme steps would be taken, alluding to media reports that Dhoni could be removed as captain. Sources said Dhoni would continue to captain the Indian team in all formats of the game. The BCCI is upset at such media speculation, the sources said. (Pics:Team India back from West Indies)
"Obviously we are not happy with the performance of the team but it does not mean that we are thinking of removing Dhoni as Twenty20 captain," a top BCCI source said.
As the team arrived on Friday, the cricketers avoided eye contact at the Mumbai and Delhi airports with the waiting media and slipped into their vehicles without offering any comments. Dhoni chose to make a quiet back door exit.
The board is also waiting for a report from coach Gary Kirsten who minced no words in criticising some of the players for their poor fitness and poor performance. On Thursday, the Team India coach slammed his boys, pointing out that even he was fitter than some of the players like Yuvraj Singh and Rohit Sharma. The coach gave the players one month to shape up. (Read:I am fitter than some players: Kirsten)
Players like Yuvraj Singh and Rohit Sharma - whose fitness has been questioned, will be asked to prove that they are fit to play the next major tournament the Asia Cup in Sri Lanka next month.
Kirsten, who is now in London and will meet up with the players in Johannesburg on their way to Zimbabwe for a tri-series, also said that the team was content to be number 1 in Tests and number 2 in ODIs but had not shown enough commitment to the World T20.
India, who had won the inaugural World T20 tournament in 2007, failed to win either of its three Super Eight matches and went out with a whimper in this year's tournament.(Read:Indian women lose in semis)
After the pathetic Indian performance, Kirsten held one-on-one meetings with senior players Yuvraj Singh, Rohit Sharma, Gautam Gambhir, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra and captain Dhoni.(Read & Watch: Players must respect their bodies, says Dhoni)
He then met the rest of the team together and demanded better fitness from the players in one month.
The South African also said the players are adamant about their right to party saying they wanted the freedom.
Kirsten, who has been coaching Team India since 2008, will submit a report to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on the West Indies washout.
The big question though is the timing of Kirsten's report. If fielding is one indication of poor fitness then India has been struggling in this department for a couple of years now.
Yuvraj's fitness has been under fire for a while and his run of poor scores has not helped. Yuvi has no half-century in 14 IPL games and 5 T20 games. Understandably, he bats lower down the order but it's been evident that he's been totally out of sorts.
Yet it wasn't just Yuvraj but almost everyone who had problems at the World T20, especially with the short ball.
Sachin Tendulkar, who fully backed his teammates on Thursday, handed them a simple tip to check their susceptibility to bouncers and short-pitched deliveries. Just practice more, he said.(Read:Tendulkar backs Team India)
The beleaguered team, under fire from all quarters, found full support from Sachin. He said the players knew their responsibilities well and needed to be focused on cricket. He also asked fans to support the players, as that would help them start afresh. Team India, said Sachin, was still number 1.
Support for Dhoni also came from former captain Sunil Gavaskar, who felt that he is the best man to lead the side.
"I don't think anybody should be complacent enough to think his place in the team is secure as a player or as a skipper. But having said that, Dhoni has done the best he could. I still think he is the best bet as far as captaining the country is concerned. He has not quite had the luck he had when he started with India's captaincy," Gavaskar said.
Gavaskar, however, dismissed as a "poor excuse" Dhoni's comments that IPL's after-match parties and the hectic travelling had taken a toll on the players.
"I don't think that is an excuse at all. I think that is a very poor excuse used by people to say that IPL parties were the reason for the team not performing. Tell me one thing, there were no parties in the West Indies were they? So how can you say that the team performed badly in the Caribbean because of parties in India," said Gavaskar.
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