India's unbeaten run in World Cup 2019 came to an end on Sunday after a 31-run loss to hosts England at Edgbaston in Birmingham. Following the loss, some fans and pundits trained their guns at former India captain MS Dhoni for his apparent "lack of intent" in the chase, this despite him scoring 42 off 31 at a strike-rate of 135.48 -- second highest for an Indian batsman in the match. But assistant coach Sanjay Bangar said on Monday the criticism levelled at the former captain surprised him, adding that 37-year-old Dhoni was "doing the job for the team".
"Except for one odd innings, he has done the role always. Five out of seven games he has done the job for the team," Bangar was quoted as saying in an ICC media release.
"If you see the earlier games, against South Africa he stitched together a partnership of 70 (the partnership was 74) with Rohit (Sharma). After that, what was required of him against Australia he did that.
"In Manchester on a difficult track (against West Indies) he got a vital fifty for us. Here also he was striking the ball really well. I'm surprised that this question continues to come up every now and then."
Chasing a stiff target 338 to win, previously unbeaten India needed 71 runs from the last five overs of Sunday's match at Edgbaston, with veteran big-hitter Dhoni and Kedar Jadhav at the crease.
But the pair added just 39, scrambling singles but failing to find the boundary regularly, to finish on 306-5. Dhoni was unbeaten on 42 off 31 deliveries while Jadhav was 12 not out off 13 balls.
The two batsmen were criticised in the Indian press and on social media, with pundits labelling their approach as "baffling".
A powerful middle-order batsman who led India to World Cup glory at Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium in 2011, Dhoni's finishing prowess has recently been questioned.
Earlier in the current tournament he faced flak for his slow knock against Afghanistan, when he scored just 28 off 52 deliveries.
Bangar said England's excellent bowling was the reason for India's struggles in Birmingham, rather than Dhoni's alleged lack of intent.
"If you look at the way they bowled towards the end, they used the dimensions really well and created difficult angles for our batters to hit," said Bangar.
"In those large boundaries and with the type of balls they were bowling -- slower bouncers, a lot of into-the-wicket deliveries, slower balls, I just felt maybe last one or two overs, the difference between runs required and balls left were a bit too much."
India need one win from their remaining two matches to guarantee a place in the World Cup semi-finals.
(With AFP inputs)