Virat Kohli’s explanation of why wicket-keeper batsman MS Dhoni came out to bat at number seven during India’s run chase in the World Cup semi-final against New Zealand has not impressed Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman.
After India’s top order collapsed with the score still in single digits, Kohli sent Dinesh Karthik and Hardik Pandya to rebuild the Indian innings while Dhoni waited for his turn much to the surprise of observers.
Shedding light on the decision after India’s 18-run loss, Kohli, in the post-match conference, said, “He was given this role of playing with the lower order after the first few matches. So that was the game plan. I think today Dhoni was batting well with Jadeja. There had to be a good balance in the team, if one is striking the ball well, the other has to play second fiddle.”
Dhoni played a knock of 50 runs but was run-out in the penultimate over as he looked to accelerate with 25 runs still needed off the last 10 balls.
Former India cricketers Ganguly and Laxman hit out at the team management’s decision and told the official broadcaster that Dhoni should have been sent up the order as India left it too late to issue a counter attack.
“It was a tactical blunder to send Dhoni that low. They could have saved the wickets of Dinesh Karthik and Hardik Pandya and let Dhoni build a partnership with Rishabh Pant,” Laxman said during the chat show.
Echoing the sentiment, Ganguly said that in a run-chase like this, you cannot send a batsman like Dhoni at number seven.
“He could’ve come to bat early and batted the entire innings. Then we would have had Jadeja, Pandya and Karthik, whose contribution in four and five overs have been immense in the past. He (Karthik) struggles only when he has to begin the game from scratch,” Ganguly said.
Dhoni scored a half-century and built up a 100-run partnership with Ravindra Jadeja after India were reeling at 92-6 at one stage, but New Zealand survived the late onslaught to stun India by 18 runs.