It’s an important match, the most important in the tournament so far – World Cup 2019 semi-final. The team is in trouble, deeper than it’d appear, there are all these young batsmen in the ranks and a veteran who has played more matches than all of them collectively. For some reason, Team India opted to send in the young guns ahead in dire circumstances and not MS Dhoni. In fact, he walked out to bat at No.7 and former captain Sourav Ganguly cannot fathom the rationale behind this decision making.
Matt Henry and Trent Boult were all over the Indian top order and the scoreboard read 5/3 – surprisingly Dinesh Karthik was the next man in. Out there to bat for the second time in the tournament. He survived, took 20 odd deliveries to get off the mark but perished soon. It was time for the team management to make another decision – who bats next? While most were still racking their brains – 25-year-old Hardik Pandya and 21-year-old Rishabh Pant were forging a partnership trying to save the day.
Dhoni walks in at No.7
The ball was still moving around and New Zealand were still on the offensive. To their credit, Pandya and Pant batted really well, curbing their natural instinct of going for the kill and extending their stay in the middle. But they perished after getting into the 30s. They were 71/5 in the 23rd over and in walked Dhoni. There was still a mountain to climb. Pandya stood beside him for a few more overs but then the scoreboard reflected 92/6 in the 31st over.
That’s when Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja got together. Attempting the seemingly improbable as the fuel was running out. There was literally no hope once either of those two departed.
They put together a partnership worth 116 runs – Jadeja was the aggressor – he contributed 77 while Dhoni added 32. The pressure was constantly mounting with the asking rate well over 10. Jadeja played a false shot after 58 balls of flamboyance his luck waned off.
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Dhoni’s run out in the 49th over just put a lid on it and the game was wrapped up in no time. Ganguly who captained and has seen Dhoni very closely for the most part of his career certainly believed that the wicketkeeper-batsman was their best bet in the chase and should’ve walked out to bat much sooner than 7.
“In a run-chase like this, you cannot send a batsman like Dhoni at No. 7. 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 while talking on Star Sports the official broadcaster.
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