'We picked the best possible team' - Vengsarkar
Following India's shocking exit from the opening round of the World Cup, Dilip Vengsarkar, the Indian chairman of selectors, has defended the composition of the team and hoped that the elimination would serve as a wake up call.
After winning both their warm-up games easily, India succumbed to an unexpected defeat in their opening match against Bangladesh and later went down to Sri Lanka in a must-win encounter. India sole victory was against minnows Bermuda, which wasn't enough as Bangladesh advanced to the Super Eights on the strength of their two victories. Reflecting on the defeat, Vengsarkar put it down to "bad luck", though he didn't shy away from criticising the format of the tournament. Only two teams from a single group of four make it to the second round.
"I think we picked the best possible team," Vengsarkar was quoted in The Hindu. "We looked at various options and tried to do a good job. But that one defeat against Bangladesh pushed us back. We may beat Bangladesh ten times out of ten but that one off day will rankle.
"It was nothing but bad luck. I am not trying to offer excuses but we must accept that it was a bad phase and proved costly because of the format of the tournament."
Vengsarkar also backed the team management's decision on the playing XI for the matches against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Anil Kumble, the most experienced bowler of the lot, was left out of both games while Dinesh Karthik was made to sit out of all three matches despite an impressive outing in the second and final warm-up match against West Indies.
"In hindsight one can always say a lot but we must remember that we had some very competent people to make the decisions," he said. "I back them because I don't believe in ifs and buts." Vengsarkar also extended his sympathy to the players given the mercurial reactions back home, with effigies and posters being burnt on public view, one which he described as being "stage managed". He was critical of the reactions and blamed the media for playing it up.
"It is very easy to criticise but I know how the players must be feeling," he said. "It was shattering for them and for most of us here too but that doesn't give us the authority to ridicule and humiliate the players. It is unfortunate that most of the TV channels are trying to provoke the common man with some unprofessional coverage. "
With speculations that the future of certain players was in doubt, Vengsarkar acknowledged that the young players still have plenty of the talent and that they need to be persisted with. The Indian board is due to meet on April 6 and 7 in Mumbai to take serious decisions on changes of personnel in key positions in Indian cricket.
"Most of the members in this team are in their early or mid twenties and promise a lot for the future. It is a good crop of talent and we need to have faith in them."