India’s exit from the World Cup 2019 shattered the dreams of more than a billion people back home and all around the world. The defeat against New Zealand in the semi-finals brought an end to India’s campaign which saw them register 7 wins out of 10 matches with just 1 defeat in the league stage.
The second proved to be the final nail in the coffin for India as New Zealand edged past the two-time world champions in the first semi-final, which was played over two days due to rain in Manchester.
India though were struggling right from the onset in that game against the Kiwis after a good bowling performance. India had lost four top-order batsmen for just 24 runs inside 10 overs and were tottering at 92 for 6 in chase of a modest target of 240.
In walked MS Dhoni at No.7, one of the finest finishers in the format, but many wondered why was the former India captain coming in so late with the team in deep trouble?
Dhoni though had the experience of winning games for India from seemingly impossible situations. He could surely do it again!
Dhoni kept India in the hunt thanks to a 116-run partnership with Ravindra Jadeja. But once Jadeja departed for 77, it was left all on Dhoni to bat with the tail and get the remaining runs required.
With the match going right down to the wire, Martin Guptill produced a moment of magic as he ran out Dhoni (50) in the 49th over with a direct hit from fine leg to end all hopes of an Indian victory. India’s innings ended soon after Dhoni’s departure as the team got shot out for 221 in 49.3 overs.
Dhoni’s batting position became the talking point after the game as fans and former cricketers wondered why he came in at No.7 and not before the likes of Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya.
India coach Ravi Shastri finally opened up on the issue and revealed the thought process behind sending Dhoni down the order.
“Absolutely not (on whether India should have promoted Dhoni). Because at 5 for 3, had Dhoni gone, the game was over. But with Dhoni in the 48th over, with his computer out. Oh you were very much in the game but for that run-out.
“And what is Dhoni’s strength. I will argue with anyone who wants to argue. What is Dhoni’s strength? What is he known for? The best finisher in the game. So where should he be batting….at the finish or at the top?
“So, Jadeja made things happen. It was a brilliant inning, we were nowhere. He made the game and there was the perfect orchestrator there, MS to finish it off. And I will tell you what, his computer was out. He knew who is going to bowl one over or six balls were calculated. It was all in his computer, but for that run-out but that’s the game,” Shastri said on the 3rd episode of India Today Inspiration.
“We lost by 16 (18 runs). He got out at 10 balls to spare. 10 balls to spare, MS Dhoni and 20 needed. You are talking about the best finisher in the game, there is an over up his sleeves that is calculated. What is 20 in 10, 2 hits over the rope it is 8 in 8. It is a tough pill to swallow.
“We guys had a lot to learn from them. It was a really tough pill to swallow. I don’t think anyone spoke to each other for a day or so. It was hard, but you play sport. The men play this game. Proper men. Learn from that experience and move on. That’s why I respect this team,” Shastri added.