Team India's batting coach Sanjay Bangar has reportedly revealed that it was not his decision alone to send former Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni to bat at number seven in the ICC Cricket World Cup semi-final clash against New Zealand on July 9. In an interview with the Hindustan Times, Bangar stated that the coaching unit asseses a lot of situations and takes decisions like this.
"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," Bangar told HT.
The 46-year-old former all-rounder said they planned to keep the number five, six and seven spots flexible so that the batsmen can capitalise the 30-40 over slab. He also mentioned that everyone was aware of it and as stated by Virat at the Afghanistan post-match press conference, they wanted Dhoni lower down the order to see through the death overs and take care of the tailenders with his experience.
"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 maximise the 30-40 over slab," he said.
"And, the individuals were well aware of it. Virat (Kohli) also stated in his press conference after the semi-finals 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," Bangar added.
The former all-rounder further went on to say that Dinesh Karthik's promotion to the number five spot was made in the dressing room to stop the fall of wickets and revive the innings before Dhoni comes and finishes the job. He added that Ravi Shastri has also stated that it was the team's decision and Bangar sees no reason behind him getting solely blamed.
"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," he said.
"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," Bangar further added.
India exited the ICC Cricket World Cup after losing to New Zealand in the semi-final by 18 runs. The Men in Blue's most experienced batsman Mahendra Singh Dhoni was sent to bat at number seven. Though 38-year-old World Cup-winning captain and Ravindra Jadeja showed some resilience, they could not see through the match.
The decision to send Dhoni at number seven was heavily criticised by cricket fans all over the world. They stated that the ageing wicket-keeper batsman should have been sent in earlier as he had the experience to steady the ship when the middle-order was sinking. Despite Shastri and Kohli stating it to be a team's decision all the blame fell on Bangar. Even BCCI officials reportedly blamed him because he could not solve the Indian middle-order crisis.