Manchester: Batting legend Sachin Tendulkar and former India captain Sourav Ganguly were left baffled when MS Dhoni came out to bat at No.5 in India's 18-run semifinal defeat to New Zealand at the World Cup on Wednesday.
While Ganguly said during commentary that he was surprised with Dhoni not being sent to bat at his usual position, Tendulkar went on to say the former India skipper batting at No.5 would have made a difference.
In the rain-hit semifinal played over two days, New Zealand scored 239/8 in 50 overs after opting to bat. Kane Williamson (67) and Ross Taylor (74) formed the bedrock of their innings.
In reply, India lost four top order batsmen for just 24 runs inside 10 overs before Ravindra Jadeja (77) and Dhoni (50) shared a 116-run seventh wicket stand to raise hopes for an unlikely victory. However, it wasn't enough in the end as India fell short by 18 runs.
The talking point was Dinesh Karthik coming in to bat ahead of Dhoni at No.5. Karthik fell cheaply but still there were no signs of India's 2011 World Cup winning captain as all-rounder Hardik Pandya walked in. Dhoni eventually came out to bat at No.7.
"In a crunch moment like this you would think of promoting Dhoni and control the game. Towards the end he was talking to Jadeja and controlling the proceedings. Very smartly he was rotating the strike.
"Instead of Hardik, may be Dhoni coming in at No. 5 would have made a difference. Dhoni would have for sure done something and made sure on either side of him," Sachin was quoted as saying by India Today.
Ganguly added that with Pant, who made 32 off 56 balls before getting out, in the middle, Dhoni coming in would have helped.
"Dhoni should have batted up. You need that composure and not just his batting. He would not have allowed wickets to fall in a cluster. If Dhoni was there when Pant was batting, he would not have allowed Pant to play that shot against the breeze. You can't have Dhoni at number seven," Ganguly said.