Mumbai: Upset with his team's elimination from the World T20, India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni blamed the two no-balls bowled by Ravichandran Ashwin and Jasprit Bumrah, and the dew factor as the main reasons for hosts' shocking loss to the West Indies in the semifinals.
Chasing 193 for victory, Simmons scored an unbeaten 82 to steer West Indies to the World T20 final. He survived two chances -- Ravichandran Ashwin's no-ball gave man-of-the-match Simmons 'life' at 18 when Jasprit Bumrah had taken the catch and then Pandya overstepped when the right-hander was on 50.
"You have to realise it was half an hour early start. A bad toss to lose. So, when they started batting the first few overs were fine, but after that there was a considerable amount of dew which meant the spinners couldn't bowl how they would have liked to," said Dhoni at the post-match press conference at the Wankhede Stadium.
"It was coming on nicely and the ball was getting wet, so that was the difference between the first innings and second innings. The surface had some assistance for the spinners, it was gripping (when India batted), but in the second innings there wasn't much in it for them. It was quite difficult to score 190 (batting first).
"The only thing I'm disappointed about are the two no-balls. Other than that we tried our best and even if the conditions were not in favour of the spinners, whatever resources we had we tried our best in the game," he added.
Dhoni felt that no balls are something that are easily avoidable.
"If you bowl a no-ball and get a wicket off that no-ball then there is no one else to blame because also one of the catches was brilliant that was taken off the no-ball. What it does is that it gives you a free-hit and the batsmen get a chance to get into some kind of a momentum. So I feel that the point at which the no-balls were bowled were quite crucial.
"If we had got those wickets, we would have got the opportunity to bowl at one or two overs of the spinners and get away with them without giving too many runs. Nobody wants to bowl a no-ball, so I don't want to be too tough on them but when there is pressure you have to be at your best.
"No-ball is something that can be avoided, especially the front foot no-ball, if you practice more and more. The only thing is that if you don't want to bowl a no-ball you should never bowl a no-ball," insisted Dhoni.
The wicketkeeper-batsman admitted that his spinners struggled to grip the ball. "I think the spinners had some assistance, as I said, but as the dew comes in it becomes difficult for them to turn the ball. The seam gets wet and the surface becomes a bit greasy so it comes onto the bat nicely. I feel we have seen that our spinners do struggle in conditions like these," he said. "If you remember, in one of the T20 World Cups we were knocked out because of one bad game and in that game there was a bit of dew...or I don't remember, maybe it was rain that got the ball wet, so that's where our spinners find it difficult. "It was quite evident. Ash (Ashwin) only bowled two overs, (Ravindra) Jadeja was forced to bowl the last quota of his overs, otherwise he would have only bowled three overs," explained Dhoni. Ashwin gave away 20 runs in two overs, while Jadeja's four overs costed 48 runs.
Defending his decision to not bring on Ashwin back to complete his quota, Dhoni said it was not the ideal time as Andre Russell, who hit a quick-fire 43 not out off 20 balls, was at the crease. "No, it was not in my mind (to bring back Ashwin), looking at Russell and the big hitters and the amount of purchase there was on offer. That was not the best time for him to bowl. Kolkata, I'm not sure what my thinking was then. When the wicket is turning I like to take that gamble of keeping a few overs of the spinner so that if needed, I can make him bowl but if not, I don't have to waste it."
Dhoni said the team constantly kept reviewing the target it wanted to set while batting first. "We have to keep reviewing. What our strength is if you see the Indian brand of cricket, we take one or two overs, we see how the wicket is behaving and according to that we see 'okay, next five overs, let's do this, at the end of this over if we have not lost too many wickets, this is where we should be. What happens is you evaluate every 3-4 overs, at times in two overs, also depending on who is bowling. And that has been our strength. We always get a score that is a par plus score. "Right from the start if you think about the big hitters and start looking at 210 as a good score, you may end up getting 160 or 170 and that may not be enough on a wicket like this. So you always look to back your strengths at the same time, go for a par plus score, don't go for a score that is an absolute score," he said.
Insisting that nothing is a safe score in this format, Dhoni said: "What we have seen in this format is that nothing is a safe score. We have seen 220, 230 also getting chased, so depending on your strength and the depending on the wicket we say this is the score and make sure we reach there."
On Ajinkya Rahane coming in place of Shikhar Dhawan for the crucial semifinal match, Dhoni said: "If you see, Shikhar has been batting quite well but he's not been able to convert. The thing with Rahane is he is someone who is quite calm and composed and he knows his responsibility in the team. This is the kind of innings that is expected of him. He isn't someone who is going to bat like Rohit Sharma or Virat Kohli.
"Someone who is orthodox can give us that platform from where we can launch and score those extra 10-15 runs in the last few overs. Both of them are very good but it's just that Shikhar wasn't able to convert starts.
"In games like these often you want to give the new guy a go, because if you see, where Shikhar had the edge was in a few games before the World Cup. Other than that, if you see the stats, Ajinkya in such conditions like in the IPL, he's been among the leading run-scorers as opener. So those were the reasons behind it. I'm glad that after facing a few deliveries he got a start and did what he does best."
Dhoni said more than luck, a team needs to execute its plans to win a match.
"If you see the team combination, you have the roles and responsibility assigned to every individual and if you are performing your roles and responsibilities well you will end up winning the game. The problem happens when the opposition is batting first on a surface that will remain the same and end up scoring 30-35 runs more than what is a par score. If you compare today's game, the surface in the first innings and the second inning was very different," said Dhoni.
"Ultimately, what matters is how the players are performing. It is good that we talk about luck because we start with a flip of the coin. But other than that you have to be at your best, you have to keep performing. If you know there will be dew, you try to win the toss, you can't really control it. You try to win the toss, put the opposition in and try to take the game away from there. So luck is a factor definitely but at the end of the game you have to play good cricket.
"None of the tournament (matches) that we have won was because of good luck, there is nothing called good luck. You have to execute your plans well. When an individual is given that tough responsibility of bowling one over when there is pressure, he bowls a good over, he executes his plan; ultimately you win the game. It is not about that if he is the captain you will win the series or if the other guy is the captain you will lose the series," he added.