St. Lucia: India skipper M.S. Dhoni refused to blame the IPL for the team's debacle but conceded that after-match parties and hectic travelling during the glitzy league did take a toll on the players' fitness.

“Most of the players were fit and fresh. Players also need to be smart, not only about cricket but about other things going around in the IPL. We have to respect our body and give some time for it to recover because there is more to it than playing matches. Attending parties and travelling takes a toll,” Dhoni said after India's loss to Sri Lanka.

The defeat was also India's third successive one in the Super Eights stage, a disappointing low for the inaugural champion.

Dhoni said the six-week long IPL was in itself not responsible for the debacle. “Our performance does not have anything to do with IPL,” said Dhoni.

“I wouldn't say the IPL was a setback for our preparation. In fact, it has helped us in match preparation for the World Cup. It has thrown up players like (Suresh) Raina, Rohit (Sharma), (Ravindra) Jadeja, (Pragyan) Ojha and (Amit) Mishra. It has groomed a lot of talent.”

Dhoni rejected criticism of the team and said he was least affected by what was said about it.

Sloganeering

“As far as the sloganeering goes, I am not bothered about that. We try and do our best. We play for our country and we are more respectful to our country than those who do these things. They can do whatever they want,” fumed Dhoni.

He said the Indians had done their best although the results have not been too good. — PTI

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