MS Dhoni’s batting in the ICC World Cup 2019 came under lots of scrutinies especially when he was sent at no.7 in the all-important semi-final against New Zealand played on July 9-10. The match was played over two days due to rain.
New Zealand put up 239/8 in their 50 overs with half-centuries from Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor. India was blown away by Matt Henry and Lockie Ferguson as they were reduced to 5/3 in first 5 overs. Ravindra Jadeja (77) and Dhoni (50) shared a 116-run seventh-wicket stand to raise hopes of an unlikely victory. But Guptill ran out Dhoni to give Kiwis a win by 18 runs, sending them into the finals.
However, MS Dhoni, who batted at no.5 during the tournament, was pushed back down to no.7 during this match, despite India losing wickets right, left and center. India’s assistant coach Sanjay Bangar was questioned about this and he said, "I am really flattered that people are looking at me from this angle because I am not the sole decision-making authority. Believe me, we assess and go through a lot of situations."
"We had also decided that we would have to be flexible in the middle order as far as No. 5, 6 and 7 were concerned because we were looking to maximize the 30-40 over the slab. And, the individuals were well aware of it. Virat (Kohli) also stated in his press conference after the semifinals that after the Afghanistan game, it was decided that Dhoni could bat a little lower down (till that point he had batted at No 5), so that he could play post the 35th over as he could accelerate in the death overs and also take care of the lower order with his experience. So, he was slated to bat at No 6 in the semis,” he further said.
“Dinesh Karthik was promoted to No 5 after consultations in the changing room to stem the fall of wickets and resurrect the innings and leave Dhoni, our most experienced player, to do the finisher's job. Ravi Shastri has categorically stated that it was a team decision. So, I fail to understand why this perception that the decision to send Dhoni at No. 7 was solely mine," he added.
"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," Shastri had said after India’s loss.
India had lost just one match in the league stages of the tournament and was considered to be the favorites to become champions. Bangar also said that like every other Indian, the team was "extremely disappointed with the semi-final exit", but were "proud of the brand of cricket played".