India had entered the tournament as favorites with only one loss in the group stage against England in Edgbaston and a near scare against Afganistan. Kohli and Co. had topped the tournament dominating other teams. Facing New Zealand in the semi-finals was a Pizza with extra cheese, a treat that team India would love to have. But, the Blackaps indeed turned out to be an underdog once again. Put on a chase for 240 runs, team India fell short of 18 with their top order collapsing as a playing card. Indeed, there was a lot of criticism about the fact that Dhoni was on the 7th number.
A crucial knock between MS Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja of 116-run lit the show. However, these both were unable to take India to semis. India fell short of the target by 18 runs and the dream of becoming the world champions was over. After the game was concluded, there was a lot of criticism about Dhoni coming at number 7.
Legends expressed their opinions
Legends like Sourav Ganguly were unhappy with team India’s decision to keep Dhoni late. He said in a blog, “India, who were outstanding in the group stages made a few surprising decisions in this game. Leaving Dhoni for so late, when three wickets are lost early was a blunder. They needed to consolidate and if anyone was a perfect foil to young Rishabh at that stage, it would have been Dhoni.”
He also added, “India needed the exuberance of youth and the calmness of Dhoni at that stage to hold the innings together and rebuild and that was a mistake by the team. Also, the omission of Mohammad Shami was tough to understand.”
Alongside Ganguly, the legendary batsman Sachin Tendulkar was also upset with Dhoni coming at number 7. He said, “ In a crunch moment like this you would think of promoting Dhoni and control the game. Towards the end, he was talking to Jadeja and controlling the proceedings. Very smartly he was rotating the strike.”
Former Indian batsman VVS Laxman termed the change in batting order a “tactical blunder”.
“Dhoni should have come ahead of Pandya. It was a tactical blunder. Dhoni should have walked ahead of Dinesh Karthik. The stage was set for Dhoni. In 2011 final also, he promoted himself up to bat at number four ahead of Yuvraj Singh and won the World Cup,” Laxman told NDTV.
Ravi Shastri Finally opens up about Dhoni
In between all the criticism, Indian Head coach Ravi Shastri had made a statement regarding Dhoni’s stand by for batting in the crucial stage of the match. He said that if Dhoni had come earlier to bat, he could have got out early. It was the team’s decision to hold him back.
He said, “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. 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”
After team India lost the game, the entire dressing room was filled with sorrows and disappointments. Ravi Shastri condoled the team and asked them to be proud of whatever they have done in this tournament.
He said, “Walk out with your heads held high. 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.”