14th August 2011, 04:40 AM
Dhoni denies fixture pile-up behind India slump
BIRMINGHAM, United Kingdom (AFP) - India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni refused to blame a packed schedule after his side were deposed as the world's number one Test side by a remorseless England at Edgbaston.
England won the third Test by a crushing margin of an innings and 242 runs, with more than a day to spare, on Saturday to take an unbeatable 3-0 lead in the four-match series and so replace India at the top of the ICC's Test Championship table.
It was the latest emphatic reverse for India, coached by former England supremo Duncan Fletcher, in a series where they lost by 196 runs at Lord's and 319 runs at Trent Bridge.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has been criticised for a schedule that saw the team arrive from the Caribbean and then play just the one warm-up match before this series started.
But Dhoni kept his thoughts to himself when asked if administrators had hampered India's chances in England.
"As for planning, it?s beyond the players' control. It's the BCCI who decides, we try to do our best and use our resources to the maximum. We play 200 days of cricket and what else do you want us to do?," asked Dhoni.
BCCI secretary Narayanswami Srinivasan is also the owner of India Premier League (IPL) champions the Chennai Super Kings -- a team captained by Dhoni.
Meanwhile star India batsman Virender Sehwag, who missed the first two Tests in England and then bagged a 'king pair' at Edgbaston, delayed shoulder surgery following India's World Cup final win in April to play in the highly lucrative Twenty20 IPL.
But Srinivasan, who takes over as BCCI president next month, denied his administration, the wealthiest national board in world cricket, favoured the IPL and one-day cricket over Test matches.
"That's nonsense," he told the Indian Express newspaper. "Test cricket is the pinnacle of the game.
"When we reached the top of the Test rankings and stayed there for close to two years, nobody raised these questions. Now, just after one bad series, criticisms are flying thick and fast.
"We must learn to be sporting. Being the number one does not mean we won't lose a match or a series."
Srinivasan said the absence of key players such as Sehwag, Zaheer Khan, Gautam Gambhir, Harbhajan Singh and Yuvraj Singh at various times during the series due to injuries cost India dearly.
"With everybody fit, we believe the series would have been a lot closer."
India's injury woes deepened Saturday when medium-pacer and aggressive lower-order batsman Praveen Kumar, one of their few success stories this tour, was hit on the thumb of his right, bowling, hand while batting.
Dhoni, who said it was too early to tell the extent of Kumar's injury, admitted: "We have been completely outplayed in the series so far."
Wicketkeeper-batsman Dhoni, who said the number one spot was "not something you are given, it's something you earn," urged his side to rally for next week's fourth and final Test against England at The Oval after India's first series loss since a 2-1 reverse in Sri Lanka in 2008.
"The expectation level in India always keeps climbing," added Dhoni, who made two fifties at Edgbaston but still saw India again fail to post 300 this series.
"We need to forget the last three games, we must treat the final match as a one-Test series and not carry the burden of the last three Tests."
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