"Fatigue was definitely a factor, as were many other things. We were a relatively tired team when we arrived in England. We've been on the road since the end of January and hadn't really been at home much," he had said.
The dreaded 'F' word is doing the rounds again and there are similar fears being expressed especially about the pacers in the current Indian team, led by skipper Virat Kohli, as they gear up to defend their Champions Trophy crown in England. All the pacers in the 15-man side, barring Mohammad Shami (8 games for Delhi Daredevils), who is coming back from a lengthy injury, featured in the play-offs. Bhuvaneshwar Kumar played 14 of the 16 games for Sunrisers Hyderabad including the eliminator. Jasprit Bumrah featured in 16 of the 17 games for champions Mumbai Indians and played all the three knockout games. KKR's Umesh Yadav played in 14 of the franchise's 16 games.
Take into account India's grand home season featuring 13 Tests in six months and you know why fans are thinking the way they are. Experts and physios though think otherwise. Nitin Patel, who was the Indian team physio from 2007 to 2015, is one of them.
"We were in a similar situation in 2013. The IPL final was on May 26 and India's first game in the Champions Trophy was on June 6. It is a similar situation now. The IPL final was on May 21 and India's first game (vs Pakistan) is on June 4," states the man who is the chief physio of three-time champions Mumbai Indians and has managed the workloads of Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik Pandya.
"One must consider that the modern-day player is far more aware about workloads and rest and recovery plans than players even five years ago. Indian players and support staff have the maximum expertise to handle such situations. Since the last five years, we have handled many such situations," he stressed.
MI bowling coach and former Kiwi pace ace Shane Bond in fact feels bowlers might be undercooked. "Because of the condensed schedule and the heat and the travel, the bowlers haven't been bowling a lot in the nets," he wrote in a column for the ICC website. "Going into the ICC Champions Trophy, where the top bowlers will be expected to bowl their quota of 10 overs, it will pose unique kind of challenge in terms of the bowlers not having had enough of a workload," Bond wrote further.
Prasad, who is chairman of the Indian junior selection committee, also feels playing under pressure could be the only thing that could add to the mental fatigue of the Indian players. "Bowling only four overs in the IPL should not be an issue unless players have niggles," he says.
The tall seamer was the bowling coach of the Indian team that crashed out in the World T20 in 2009 and disagrees with Kirsten's observations. "If someone blamed fatigue for our ouster in 2009, then he must have done that to save his backside. We lost because we played bad cricket and our fitness was at its lowest," he reveals.