Did Virat Kohli’s Baffling Tactics Cost India The Game Against New Zealand?
Team India’s hopes of becoming just the second team after Australia to win the World Cup thrice was crushed by New Zealand on Wednesday. The Black Caps thrashed the Men in Blue by 18 runs in the first semifinal in Manchester to storm into the final. Fortunes swung from one side to another but New Zealand eventually held their nerves to make it to their second World Cup final in a row.
India’s batsmen once again failed to live up to the expectations in an ICC knockout game. Just like the final of the 2017 Champions Trophy, India’s top-order once again failed to deliver. Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and KL Rahul were back in the hut inside 4 overs with the scoreboard reading just 5. The condition soon worsened as India lost Dinesh Karthik, Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya to find themselves 6 down for 92.
Ravindra Jadeja and MS Dhoni then stitched together a 116-run partnership to drag India back in contention. Jadeja in particular was brilliant. However, with 37 runs needed from the final 18 balls, Jadeja departed for 77. Dhoni struck a six off the first ball of the 49th over but was then superbly run out by Martin Guptill to realistically end India’s slim chances. India were eventually all out for 221.
Since the defeat, the cricketing world is busy discussing the possible reasons for India’s shock loss. Well, one of the biggest reasons behind the defeat seems to be India’s baffling batting tactics. In a big game, the Men in Blue raised quite a number of eyebrows with their decision. Skipper Virat Kohli might have missed a trick or two which eventually resulted in a defeat for his team.
Sending MS Dhoni at number seven was perhaps the biggest blunder of Kohli and the team-management in this World Cup. Before India’s final group clash against Sri Lanka, Dinesh Karthik had said his designated position in the batting lineup was at number seven. However, all the pre-match preparations and planning were ditched by Virat Kohli at the lost moment as the likes of Karthik and Hardik Pandya came ahead of Dhoni.
The decision was severely criticised by former skipper Sourav Ganguly also who thinks MS Dhoni at number four would have been a wiser choice. Ganguly said that Dhoni at number five would have steadied the ship and not let wickets fall in cluster. But the team-management had some other plans and it completely backfired.
India were in desperate need of some pinch hitters towards the end but the likes of Karthik and Pandya were already back in the hut. It will be unfair to criticise Virat Kohli for just one loss but one can say that the India skipper took some baffling decisions which did not come off well at all.
What was even more baffling that Kohli not only defended Dhoni’s batting position but also contradicted with Karthik’s earlier statement. While Karthik had said the team-management wanted him to bat at number seven, Kohli said the team had given Dhoni that role.
“He has been given that role after the first few games of being in a situation where he can bat and control the situation from one end or in a scenario where there are six-seven overs left and he can go and strike,” Kohli told the media after the match.
Well, whatever the reason behind sending Dhoni at number seven is, it simply did not come off. Given Dhoni’s playing style in recent months, sending him so late just does not make much sense and India’s close defeat only proved that point right.