Birmingham: A lot has been made of Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s failure to take India home against England at the Edgbaston Cricket Ground on Sunday.
The situation, it is believed, was tailormade for a Dhoni classic as India needed 104 runs from the last 10 overs. But it wasn’t to be as the former skipper finished with an unbeaten 31-ball 42 as the Men in Blue lost by 31 runs.
Speaking to IANS, former India batsman Sanjay Manjrekar said that it was time that the Indian team management looked beyond Dhoni to win them games from crunch situations.
“I will answer it differently. India should be looking at others, and not just Dhoni, to win them matches. The likes of K.L. Rahul should also be asked as to why he is getting out after getting a start and not finishing with big scores.
“I love Dhoni best when he bats like he did in the warm-up games where he scored 30 off 30 balls and then the late flourish came. The team management should tell him to keep up with a run-a-ball kind of start and then see how it goes. If it is 12/2, then I can understand that Dhoni’s experience comes in. But once he is in at around 22-25 overs, that should be the endeavour,” explained Manjrekar, who played 37 Tests and 74 one-day internationals for India between 1987 and 1996.
Asked if the way both Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav went for runs was another pointer that the team can think of employing someone like a Ravindra Jadeja, the cricketer-turned-commentator begged to differ.
“I am not a big fan of bits and pieces players which Jadeja is at this point of his career in 50-over cricket. In Test matches, he is a pure bowler. But in 50-over cricket, I would rather have a batsman and a spinner.
“You never actually base your judgements on exceptional results. India losing to England was an exceptional result. Spinners going for runs is exceptional and you have to understand that,” he said.
Another injury has struck Team India as Vijay Shankar has been ruled out of the World Cup with a toe injury and Mayank Agarwal is being flown in as a replacement. Manjrekar felt the opener would give India more options in the batting line-up as compared to all-rounder Shankar.
“With due respect to Vijay Shankar, you have to feel for him, but I am delighted that Mayank Agarwal is in this team now as an option as he is a class player. He made his Test debut in Australia and impressed,” he pointed out.
Asked if injuries were a cause of concern as Shikhar Dhawan was earlier ruled out, the former cricketer felt otherwise.
“India haven’t actually had too many injuries. Look at the fast bowlers, England have had injury issues with their strike bowler Jofra Archer. But look at Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami, touchwood they are both fit. Bhuvneshwar Kumar will get fit shortly. I don’t think that injury is an issue,” he said.
While the loss to England came as a jolt for the Indian team, Manjrekar believes that India hold the edge against Bangladesh, whom they play on Tuesday.
“India should beat Bangladesh as they are the stronger side and they have won five games and lost just one. The conditions at Edgbaston were suited to the English style of play and India also lost an important toss.
“So, when England got 300, chasing it wasn’t easy and it was one of those days when the little weakness that India have (middle order batting) was tested to the limits,” Manjrekar signed off.