India committed a “tactical blunder” by dropping MS Dhoni to number seven in the batting order, said former stalwarts Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman, who were baffled by the move in the World Cup semifinal against New Zealand.
“Dhoni should have come ahead of Pandya. It was a tactical blunder. Dhoni should have walked ahead of Dinesh Karthik. Stage was set for Dhoni. In 2015 final also, he promoted himself up to bat at number four ahead of Yuvraj Singh and won the World Cup,” rued Laxman.
Former skipper Ganguly said it’s not just about Dhoni’s batting but his calming effect on the young batsmen, batting from the other end.
Rishabh Pant was set but threw away his wicket when he attacked spinner Mitchell Santner. Skipper Virat Kohli was seen having an animated chat with coach Ravi Shatsri immediately after Pant’s dismissal.
“India needed experience at that stage. If Dhoni was there when Pant was batting, he would not have allowed Pant to play that shot against the breeze. In England, it’s a big factor. He would have told him to go after pacer, when mid-off and mid-on is up, because he is good at that.
“Dhoni should have batted up. You need that composure and not just his batting. He would not have allowed wickets to fall in cluster. Dhoni was there when Jadeja batted. Communication is strength. You can’t have Dhoni at number seven,” Ganguly told official broadcaster Star Sports.
“As a finisher, he still has tremendous respect. He can still clear the field and that’s why he left it for last. It’s not that he can’t hit sixes but he thinks that’s the way to win ODI matches,” he added.
Iconic batsman Sachin Tendulkar too felt skipper Virat Kohli made a mistake by not promoting Dhoni up the order. “The question here can be, in a crunch moment like this, would you not think of promoting Dhoni with experience on his back? Towards the end he kept talking to Jadeja and he was controlling things,” said Tendulkar.
“May be instead of Hardik, Dhoni should have come up. Batting Dinesh Karthik at number 5 was slightly out of the box I felt,” he said.