The Indian top-order, featuring Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and KL Rahul, was rich in form, coming into the all-important semi-finals of the 2019 ODI World Cup. The trio amassed as many as 1452 runs in the tournament, with Rohit smashing five centuries alone.
However, the Indian team management had to look at Rishabh Pant and Dinesh Karthik to stem the flow of wickets, as the Men in Blue lost three batsmen in quick succession adding just five on the scoreboard.
Karthik, nine months down the line, is now out-of-favour from the Indian plans in limited formats. The Tamil-Nadu stalwart has now opened up to being surprised when asked to bat at number five, in the crunch match.
According to Karthik, Ravi Shastri and Co. made it lucid that he was going to bat below MS Dhoni, donning the finisher’s role in the team. In the high-pressure game, Karthik’s half-an-hour vigil was cut short by a blinder taken by Jimmy Neesham at Point.
“It came as a bit of a surprise to me (walking in to bat at five) because they had made it very clear that I would be batting at number seven,” Karthik told Harsha Bhogle, during a recent chat conducted by Cricbuzz.
“Rohit was batting so well; you always have Virat, Shikhar had done well till he left. The middle-order typically didn’t get enough opportunities to bat, and that is one of the harder ones you know. When the middle order doesn’t get to bat and suddenly are pushed into a big game like this and thrust into such a situation,” added the wicket-keeper batsman.
Both Pant and Karthik were batting out of their places in the knock-out fixture against New Zealand. Many reckoned that even MS Dhoni‘s demotion at number seven was a lapse in strategy from the think-tank.
“I had not batted at number five for a couple of years or more. Here I got the opportunity, I went and did the job that was asked of me for the team, which was to arrest wickets,” concluded DK.
In the end, India was left too much to do, after losing their cream to a remarkable spell from Trent Boult, and Matt Henry.
The herculean effort from Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja only helped India to cut down the margin of defeat as New Zealand progressed into the finals of the tournament.