The Telegraph
Wednesday , March 5 , 2014
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‘We’re mentally fatigued’

Calcutta/Mirpur: After disappointments in South Africa and New Zealand, India will have to return empty-handed from Bangladesh as well after they were knocked out of the Asia Cup on Tuesday, courtesy Pakistan’s victory over the hosts.

As a result, India’s last group-league match, against Afghanistan, on Wednesday, has been rendered inconsequential. However, with just a single win in the tournament so far, the Virat Kohli-led team would definitely be on guard to avoid any further embarrassment.

Though India’s losses against Sri Lanka and Pakistan were close affairs which could have gone either way, they have been facing flak from almost all quarters. The most scathing attack, perhaps, came from former India captain Sunil Gavaskar who questioned the Indian players’ work ethic.

But middle-order batsman Ambati Rayudu has spoken on behalf of his teammates and has said that some of the Indian players have “mental fatigue” as they have been living out of a suitcase for the past several months.

“We have been travelling… From South Africa to New Zealand and then coming here (Bangladesh). We played a game just two days after landing here from New Zealand. So the players have mental fatigue as well,” Rayudu said after the practice session, on Tuesday.

Gavaskar, who slammed the Indians for their “abysmal work ethic”, had questioned the logic of having optional practice sessions. He was referring to the team’s pre-Pakistan match practice session where only two players — Cheteshwar Pujara and Varun Aaron — had turned up.

But Rayudu argued that there was no dearth of intensity in training. He reasoned that the team was hard-pressed with the hectic scheduling as some of the members of the side, including stand-in captain Kohli, have been playing non-stop cricket since the home series against West Indies in November last year.

“We have been working as hard as the other teams if not more. Moreover, we have been playing back-to-back games. We played three games in five days. It is not only about us… No teams have practised after back-to-back games.”

“If you look at the pattern of the games, I think all the teams have struggled in the middle overs because the wicket is slower. There were wickets falling quickly, so we needed to consolidate and at the end of the innings. But the matches have gone till the last ball. It is not that we are not able to score or anything like that… It’s the same with all the teams,” Rayudu explained.

Again, while Gavaskar criticised the Indian team management, Rayudu praised them saying: “I’m sure the team management is capable of handling the side… They have been doing a fantastic job so far.”

Throwing his weight behind captain Kohli, Rayudu said: “He has been learning a lot from (Mahendra Singh) Dhonibhai… He has been very proactive and did a fantastic job against Pakistan. Although we have been losing, we are putting in a lot of effort.”