An exhausted and disappointed Indian cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni found it tough to explain Yuvraj Singh's painstakingly slow batting in the lost World Twenty20 final against Sri Lanka but insisted that the under-fire player tried his best.
Yuvraj's 21-ball 11 was a major factor in India totalling a mere 130 after being put in to bat on Sunday. Sri Lanka overhauled the target in 17.5 overs after losing just four wickets. (Sri Lanka win World T20)
"It was an off-day for Yuvraj. He tried his best but it's not easy to come in and start slogging from ball one," Dhoni said at the post-match press conference where most of the questions centred on Yuvraj's performance.
There were a few which Dhoni completely deflected during his shortest media interaction in the whole tournament. (Highlights)
When asked if there was there a message for Yuvraj when he got stuck in the middle, Dhoni said, "No he was just trying his best. That's the most you can do." (Scorecard)
Dhoni was specifically asked about Yuvraj's future in the team considering others have more or less performed their duties or at least have age on their side. (Pics)
The smiling skipper gave an open-ended reply. "Indian cricket season is over, and now we have all domestic tournaments including the Indian Premier League. The next selection is far away so let's not talk about it."
There had been angry reactions from the fans and Dhoni got a bit serious while answering a query. (Don't blame Yuvraj, says father)
"Look, you need to understand that fans can be angry but they can't be more disappointed than the individual who is out there in the middle. As a player you don't want to do badly in front of 40000 people. You don't want to drop catches. But off-days happen. And it can happen with any athlete. May be it was an off-day for him (Yuvraj).
"Fans will be disappointed but it is the player who is always more disappointed than the fans," he explained.
When asked if Yuvraj's innings "robbed the team" of momentum, Dhoni seemed like wanting to put an end to the endless queries.
"It's a team thing. So let us not talk about individuals."
Dhoni also tried hard to explain the reason for sending Yuvraj ahead of Suresh Raina at No. 4.
"Most of our batsmen take time to hit the big shots and it is only Raina, who can start hitting big from the onset. That was the reason that we sent Yuvi up the order at No. 4."
Dhoni was all praise for the Sri Lankan team, especially the manner they bowled "wide yorkers" at the death.
"We wanted to score as many runs as possible in last four overs but credit to Lankan bowlers. They bowled perfect wide yorkers. I for one, know that Malinga bowls these superb wide yorkers. They got only one wide during that phase. They executed their plans brilliantly.
"We were a bit disappointed at the break for not having scored more than 130 but then we were thinking about Champions Trophy. It was also a 20-over match but here we had one fielder more outside the circle," the skipper said.
As for why he didn't start with his best bowler Ravichandran Ashwin, Dhoni defended the move saying, "We wanted to use Ashwin in middle overs against left-handers. So we couldn't start with him. But the pacers went for runs and I had to bring him early and he also got a wicket."
"Also the wicket changed a bit under lights as the ball started coming onto the bat," he added.
Dhoni tried to count the positives from the tournament, having been consistent right from the practice match against England.
"The spinners have bowled well as they got a bit of help and turn from the track. Virat (Kohli) has been brilliant for us as he has been in the last one and half years and even more. We were consistent from start and hence there weren't too many changes in the playing XI."