XtraTime Web Desk: After India’s heartbreaking loss in the first semifinal of the World Cup against New Zealand Ravi Shastri blamed that the absence of a solid middle order batsman costed them the match against the Kiwis.
Team management’s decision of sending Dhoni at seven faced heavy criticism as many have thought that Dhoni should have come earlier than either Hardik Pandya and Dinesh Karthik. Though Shastri has a different point of view.
“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,” Shastri told The Indian Express.
“And Rishabh Pant did look pretty secure when he got out to bat, even against (New Zealand fast bowler) Trent Boult, didn’t he? You could then say that if Pant had continued and not got out… but that’s sport. You grow up in quick time. He will learn, he already knows it. But I am happy that the team showed spunk. They didn’t give up even after losing Pant and Pandya. What a fightback that was.” he added, justifying the team’s choice to send Dhoni at No 7.
Shastri believes Dhoni had it in him to take India home if he wasn’t dismissed in an “unfortunate” fashion.
“He was magnificent. The composure in the situation. And let me tell you, if not for that unfortunate run out, I think he had his calculations going inside his head. Which ball to hit, how much to keep for (James) Neesham’s last over. You could see his brain was ticking. He wanted to do it so desperately and it was clear on his face when he came back to the dressing room,” Shastri said.
India suffered a top-order collapse that exposed the middle order early on in the innings. The likes of Rishabh Pant and Dinesh Karthik who were largely untested during the tournament failed to provide the resistance needed of them.
The 57-year-old admitted that India were lightweight in that department.
“In hindsight, yes, we did need a solid batsman out there in the middle order. But now, that’s something for the future. That’s a position that was always giving us problems, but we just couldn’t nail it. (K L) Rahul was there but then Shikhar Dhawan got injured. Then Vijay Shankar was there, and he got injured. We just couldn’t control it.” he said, before suggesting there was no time to ease in Mayank Agarwal in the team.