File photo of India allrounder Yuvraj Singh. (AFP)
Mirpur: Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Sunday did not sound convincing as he desperately tried to defend Yuvraj Singh whose painstaking 21-ball 11 put paid to India's hopes of a historic treble.
India's quest ended in heartbreak as a gutsy Sri Lanka produced a clinical display to win their maiden ICC World Twenty20 trophy with a convincing six-wicket victory here.
"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, though his statement lacked conviction.
There were a few questions on Yuvraj which he completely deflected during his shortest media interaction in the whole tournament.
Asked if there was 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."
Dhoni was specifically asked about Yuvraj's future in this current set-up considering others have more or less performed their duties or at least have age on their side. The smiling skipper gave an open-ended reply. "Indian cricket season is over...The next selection is far away, so let's not talk about it."
There had been angry reactions from the fans and he got a bit serious while answering a query. "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 40,000 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 someone 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.
"We wanted to score as many runs as possible in the 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 the 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 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."
Father defends son
"Yuvraj should not be singled out," Yuvraj's said Yograj Singh said defending his son who consumed 21 deliveries for his 11 runs and was the main reason behind scoring an average total in the final.
"When we lose there is criticism from all sides. Ups and downs are part of life and part of this game as well," he said.
Referring to the lean patch Yuvraj has gone through in recent times, Yograj said, "When a player some times goes through lean patch, the state of mind becomes such that he starts thinking if he dose not make runs, he may be out of the team or the team may lose."
"When West Indies lost the 1983 World Cup to India, Sir Viv Richards went to the Indian dressing room and congratulated the team saying they played better cricket and deserved to win," he said, adding that the sportsman's spirit in the game was more important.