The usually indefatigable Mahendra Singh Dhoni conceded to being hurt at the way Chennai Super Kings' IPL campaign has hurtled from one disaster to another but ruled out benching himself from the remaining three games, saying "a captain can't run away". CSK are all but out of reckoning from a play-offs spot and Dhoni said the three remaining games would be an exercise in understanding how the side should plan for the next season. They next take on Royal Challengers Bangalore on Sunday.
"We have to make the most of the next three games and it is good preparation for the next year. Identify the batsmen, who will bowl at the death and hopefully the players will soak up the pressure," he said after the 10-wicket loss to Mumbai Indians on Friday.
"Captain can't run away, so I'll be playing in all the games," he added.
CSK have just six points from 11 matches and are at the bottom of the IPL points table. Dhoni said several factors have contributed to the dismal run. "...it hasn't been our year. Whether you lose by 8 or 10 wickets, it hardly matters, but where we are at this stage of the tournament, it does hurt. What you need to see is where we actually went wrong, right from the second game," he said.
"There can be a 100 reasons, but one of the main things you ask yourself is whether you've played to the potential you've got no matter the conditions. When you put a good team on paper, have we done enough to back up the stats? And this year we haven't."
The former India captain said luck also did not favour CSK this time. "It was more about the bowling. Rayudu got injured, the other batsman were maybe not there 200% and in cricket when you're going through a tough phase, you need a bit of luck.
"The games we wanted to bat first, we haven't won the toss, and there's no dew and all of a sudden when we bat first there's dew," he said.
He said there have been just too many batting failures this season. "You can't always think the result will go your way. Even when you're hurting, you try to smile and take it on the chin. I feel the boys have done that, they've tried to perform.
Dhoni said the remaining three games will be an ideal opportunity to give a platform to the youngsters. Victorious Mumbai Indians' stand-in captain Kieron Pollard, on the other hand, described the win as a team effort. "We wanted to bowl them out under 100 but Sam batted well. I think it was a total team effort," said Pollard who led MI in the absence of injured Rohit Sharma.
"Two-three wickets early puts you in the game and to get 4-5 is fantastic. Then the openers going out and finishing off and not leaving any uncertainty was good."
He said MI would want to finish in top-two in the league phase but said it's about getting the points and not thinking about play-offs opponents. "There's always room for improvement, myself making some mistakes on the field, guys not being aware in certain situations. Maybe it's no technical, but it's things you need to speak about."
On leading the side, he said, "It (captaincy is part and parcel of it, sometimes you don't actually have to be a leader to be a leader. "I know a thing or two. So it was just a matter of me stepping in and it came off tonight. It was just matter of making right decisions, not giving them freebies."