Sourav Ganguly feels Axar Patel was promoted to take the pressure off MS Dhoni
They may have been whitewashed in the Test series, but New Zealand have certainly packed a punch in their limited-overs leg of their tour to India and now find themselves with an equal chance as the hosts to win the 50-over series, as the bandwagon shifts to Vizag for the fifth and deciding ODI in this series.
On Wednesday night, the Kiwis put in a committed performance on the field of their defence of 260 meant that they eeked out a fine 19-run win over India to level the series at 2-2 and take the rubber into the final match on Saturday.
Post the game, skipper MS Dhoni spoke about how the start the visitors got while batting was critical, but in hindsight, there were few other decisions that also had an impact on the game.
One of those calls was to send Axar Patel at Number 5 ahead of someone like a Manish Pandey, who has shown the capability to do well at the 4th or the 5th slot. While the decision didn't prove to be completely wrong since Patel did a relatively good job until getting out towards the end, it didn’t help the team get over the line eventually.
Former India captain Sourav Ganguly believes that the call to send him at Number 5 was to take the pressure off Dhoni and added with two left-am spinners in the opposition, it would have been difficult with two right-handers in the middle.
"I think Axar Patel coming up the order was not a bad move because there were so many left armers and it was to take pressure off MS Dhoni. When there are two right-handers and ball turning square, it is not easy for the right-handers to rotate. That's exactly what happened. So for MS Dhoni to get some loose balls, they got Axar Patel up the order, which I don't think was a bad move. But you know, it's the batters who have to see you through.
"New Zealand fell in this problem many a time in this series. India also when they lost Virat Kohli, Dhoni, Rahane in succession and Kedar Jadhav first delivery. When you lose so many wickets in quick succession, you are under pressure,” Ganguly told India Today post the match.
The 21-year-old hung on till the end and it looked at one stage that he, along with Amit Mishra, could help India pull off the chase, but an unnecessary run-out followed by the former’s dismissal meant that India had to depend on Number 10 and 11 to take them home.
While Dhawal Kulkarni and Umesh Yadav tried their best, they could not take the team the extra mile and eventually India lost the game by 19 runs.