There has been quite a big discussion doing the rounds on the decision to send MS Dhoni at No.7 when chips were down in the first semi-final of the cricket World Cup against New Zealand at Old Trafford earned the Indian team management a strong backlash. Former captains like Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar besides ex-batsman VVS Laxman were baffled by the decision to send the most experienced player in the Indian line-up down the order.
It was a team decision
MS Dhoni had come out to bat in the 23rd over with India reeling at 71 for 5 and then added 116 runs for the seventh wicket with Ravindra Jadeja to almost turn the game in India’s favour. India head coach Ravi Shastri though had his own defence ready about the decision to send Dhoni so down. According to him, they did not want Dhoni to go in early and lose his wicket in which case, India’s chances would have been over. He even said that the “whole team was clear on it”.
“It was a team decision. Everyone was in with it — and it was a simple decision, too. The last thing you wanted was Dhoni coming out to bat early and getting out — that would have killed the chase,” Shastri was quoted as saying by the Indian Express, a day after India lost yet another World Cup semi-final. “We needed his experience later. He is the greatest finisher of all times — and it would have been criminal to not make use of him in that way. The whole team was clear on it,” Shastri added.
The 57-year-old former all-rounder gave the team a pep talk after the shock defeat. He asked the members to hold their heads high and be proud. “Those 30 minutes can’t erase the fact that you guys have been the best team in the last couple of years. You guys know it. One tournament, one series — and that, too, 30 minutes of play can’t decide that. You guys have earned that respect. Of course, we are all hurt and disappointed but, in the end, be proud of what you have done for the last two years,” the coach was quoted further as saying.
Shastri, who was a member of the Indian team that had won the World Cup in England in 1983, however, acknowledged that India failed to get the service of a solid middle-order batsman and the injuries to Shikhar Dhawan and Vijay Shankar made things worse. India had to promote KL Rahul to the opening slot after Dhawan was ruled out while Vijay’s toe injury saw Rishabh Pant making up for his place in the middle order. Shastri said the middle-order problem was always giving India headaches and conceded that the team couldn’t nail it eventually.