India’s unsuccessful quest to qualify for the semifinals of the ICC World Twenty20 was a “bitter pill to swallow,” said Ravichandran Ashwin on his arrival from Colombo, here on Wednesday.

“I am definitely upset. We might have won four out of five games but not qualifying is very disappointing. It’s hard to put it in perspective,” said the off-spinner, who reached Chennai along with seamer L. Balaji, while other members of the Indian team returned to their respective hometowns.

Speaking to The Hindu, Ashwin admitted the one-run victory over South Africa on Tuesday evoked mixed feelings. “We did have hopes [of qualifying] going into the match. But batting first made things difficult, especially with the wicket being a little slow. It’s hard to set a target and come up with a game plan based on the net run-rate. South Africa is a very good side and it was a tight game in the end.”

The 26-year-old played down the controversies surrounding the team combination during the tournament. “T20 is very much like a soccer game and there was a horses-for-courses approach to selection. It’s easy to contemplate and analyse after the event but it’s an unpredictable format.”

Ashwin also noted that India hadn’t played many Twenty20 matches in the lead-up to the World Cup. “In the whole itinerary package, there weren’t a lot of T20 matches [for India]. In a long tournament like the IPL, there is time to adjust. But you can’t afford that luxury in the World Cup.”

Dwelling on the bright spots for India, Ashwin lauded Virat Kohli’s performance. “Virat batted beautifully. Bala (L. Balaji) bowled well at the death and Irfan Pathan contributed as well.”

Having claimed five wickets from four matches (economy rate of six), Ashwin was pleased with his showing. “I had a good tournament. It was a great experience to bowl in the first six overs as well as the slog overs. It’s a lot about taking responsibility.”

Looking ahead, Ashwin was optimistic about the home series against England that’s set to begin in November. “The English will be better-prepared this time around and I am looking forward to the challenge.”

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