Rahul Dravid played the shot of a defeated man in India's virtual knockout by Sri Lanka at the Queen's Park Oval. Hobbling on one foot, watching the wickets go down and the required rate go up, he began throwing about his bat, ultimately holing out, having just taken 17 from a Lasith Malinga over. It was the cricketing equivalent of his expression as he faced the press for a long interrogation later.
Do you regret your decision at the toss?
Not really, there was something in the wicket early on. It was the right decision, we bowled quite well. We did not have luck upfront beat the bats a few times, hit the pads a few times. They played well after that to reach 250.
What are your plans for the future?
It's too early really to think about anything. A lot of hard work has gone into the preparation in the last year and to be knocked out of the tournament so early is a huge disappointment for all of us.
How emotional are you at this point?
Like I said, very disappointed.
Can you say something about the Irfan Pathan mystery? He is always in the squad but never picked in the XI.
I think we picked the team based on what the best combination is for the day. There is a tour selection committee with a lot of experience and we decide who's going to play and who' s not going to play, everyone cannot play in the 15, and some guys miss out. He played against West Indies. He was unfortunately injured against Sri Lanka. He played in the Deodhar Trophy, he was declared fit and he came here. At this point we did not think he was in our three best seamers so he did not play.
There was a lot of talk about Vision 2007. Where do we go from here?
It's really early to collect my thoughts. Really disappointing, a lot of hard work has gone into it over the last year. We did not play well in this tournament and did not deserve to go into the second round.
Did you think the target was gettable today?
255 was gettable. I'm disappointed with the top order. Definitely I thought it was a gettable target. I think we had the extra batsman. We lost wickets at regular intervals. We needed one big partnership, we did not get that. We definitely should have made a much better chase of it than we did in the end.
Do you have any hope that Bermuda can give a shock result over Bangladesh and help you qualify for the Super Eight?
Not really. Well, anything can happen in cricket. To be honest we have not really played well enough. The things which were in our control we have not done well enough.
India had a good build up to the tournament. Where do you think it went wrong?
The lead up to this tournament was pretty good. The confidence was quite high and the boys were playing good cricket. That's the nature of one-day cricket, we had a bad game against Bangladesh where we did not really bat well upfront. That sort of put pressure on us. Today again we did not play well enough. The way the tournament is structured you have one banana-skin game and you can be out of the tournament quite quickly. We started slowly too but had enough games to pull ourselves us back. This time we did not have that, that's where we fell I suppose. The first game against Bangladesh we did not play anywhere near our potential.
Nobody realizes the enormity of the defeat than the players.Definitely there is a lot of introspection and disappointment in the dressing room
It's not happened for the first time, the batsmen crumbling, choking under pressure...
Some of these guys have had success before as well. It's a question of may be the guys going back and looking at their performances, how they performed in the important games and critical games. Yes, we have not batted anywhere near our potential. We picked what was the best batting line-up in the conditions but I guess we were the best batting line-up in India, but we did not bat well enough in these two games. It is definitely something to think about.
Is this the worst defeat of your career?
It's disappointing. It's not a nice thing to lose in the early part of the World Cup. We have invested a lot of time and effort in it and it has not gone our way. It's a big event and you really want to do well. Sports is like that, sometimes your best plans and all your ideas just don't work.
Both Pakistan and India have crashed out despite the conditions being similar to that in the subcontinent...
Both the teams did not play good cricket. I think Pakistan stumbled against Ireland and we stumbled against Bangladesh. In a tournament like it is, you have one bad day and you could be in big trouble and that's what happened to Pakistan and India. I am sure there is a lot of thinking to do in both the countries.
Is it time to look at the entire system?
I have just come out of a game and I have had no time to collect my thoughts and think about these things. But when you lose like this, that is what you should do. When you have a few setbacks, when there are disappointments, or when things like this happen, then it's time for the people concerned to sit back and look at the whole issue and see how we can go forward and how we can g et better and keep improving, and perform better in the tournaments to come. So, yes it is obviously time for people who make decisions to sit back and reflect, and look at how we can make things better. We have to think about it rationally. I guess there is always a lot of emotions that gets involved in all these things. But it is time to look back rationally and see how we can move forward.
Are you worried about security back home?
Not really. I hope the players wouldn't be under any physical danger. To be honest, I don't expect that to be the case. I am sure people will be disappointed, and fair enough. They have invested a lot of hope in this team and we haven't delivered. So, they are entitled to be disappointed. But I just hope that no-one in is in any physical danger.
Are you happy with the effort of the players in the tournament?
We put a lot in this game. Definitely against Bangladesh, I was pretty disappointed with just the all-round effort. But today I thought we put in hard in the field. The boys were up for it, they came out really hard and tried their best. I just think we didn't execute well with the bat. I think 254 was a very gettable score on that wicket. We didn't execute our plans well with the bat. We just kept losing too many wickets and that's never a good thing when you are chasing a score like 250 at five runs and over.
Do you realise the enormity of this defeat?
Nobody realizes the enormity of the defeat than the players. The players are the one who put in a lot of time. They worked really hard for this. It is an opportunity they get once in four years. It is something that you really look forward to in your career. So no-one understands the enormity of this more than the players. Definitely there is a lot of introspection and disappointment in the dressing room.
It's been difficult for India in the Caribbean...
We have done quite well in the Test matches here. Yes, we haven't done well in the one-dayers in the last couple of series. It just hasn't worked out for us. We, as batsmen, have just not been able to adapt to these wickets. The nature of these wickets somehow has been that, as a group, we haven't been able to adapt to and score the kind of runs that we should.
Have some players overstayed their welcome?
It is too early, and it is not for me to say these things. I am just out of a grave game of cricket. I have just lost a game of cricket. I guess there is a month now and obviously the people who make decisions will have to sit down and think about it and see what they feel is the best way to take things forward or how they felt that things should move forward.
Shouldn't some one stand up and take responsibility?
We definitely do take the responsibility. I am not sitting here and trying to shirk responsibility. I am the first one to stand up and say that we should have done better, and it starts with me. I am not trying to put the responsibility on anyone. People are asking me what's the way forward and what do we do. I haven't really thought about stuff like that. Till about 24 hours ago, I truly believed that we will still be in this tournament. I didn't have the time to think what's ahead of us. But I am not trying to say I don't take any responsibility. I take full responsibility for the fact that we haven't progressed to the next round.
Will you continue as captain?
I was appointed captain till the World Cup. So I am not even the captain at this point of time. So it's not my decision to make.
How does it feel for the senior members to never have won a World Cup?
It will always be a disappointment. I have played in three World Cups, and we did well in one of them. So, yeah it's not an ideal scenario. It's not something that, if you were writing a fairy tale, you wouldn't write it this way. But that's\ what sports is about. Sometimes, you don't get to choose the way everything works out for you. That is the beauty and cruelty of sport.
Can you compare this campaign with the one in 2003?
I just think we probably had a little more breathing space there to regroup there and bounce back. The way the format was in the last World Cup, it guaranteed you five or six games. So it gave you an opportunity to get into a bit form. I thought we batted a lot better in the last World Cup. We got some good scores, we chased down some good scores. I think we just adapted better to those conditions in the last World Cup then we did here, in this first week that happened so quickly for us.
The captain and coach keep saying 'everything is fine, we are going to win.' Why doesn't it happen?
I haven't come across a single captain or coach as yet, who starts before a match saying we are going to lose it. Nobody will come to a press conference and say that we are going to lose the match. That's not what you do. Definitely, we expect our batsmen and our bowlers and everyone to do well.
Where did you lose?
We didn't play good cricket. Where did we lose? We gave them 254 runs and we didn't chase it down. We ended up with 180. No one-one feels worse about it than the players. I know you guys feel bad and disappointed about it. The players also feel disappointed. It's a lot of time invested by the players. It's a lot of their dreams, a lot of their hopes that go into tournaments like this. When it doesn't work out for them, they feel it more than anyone else.