Where will MS Dhoni bat? One riddle which continues to perplex Indian cricket team
Raina is out of the first ODI due to fever and Dhoni can utilise this opportunity and bat higher up.
New Delhi: The Test series is over, winning 3-0 under the leadership of Virat Kohli, and that brings Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the focus as India take on New Zealand in a five-match ODI series.
Anything other than a 5-0 win will be considered a let down for India, specially with the cricketing world keeping an eye, on how the team is getting transitioned from Test to ODIs under a different captain.
India, despite being ranked a position below the Kiwis in ODIs, will start as the favourites. The team is buoyed by the Test series win and also the fact that they are playing at home give an extra edge.
But one aspect which the team management will give extra thoughts will be on the skipper's batting position. Where will MS Dhoni, arguably India's best finisher ever, bat is the question which has perplexed everyone, including the skipper himself.
Dhoni has an average of over 53 batting at no.5, which is as good as one gets. But, his best average is at no.3, where he has managed just under 78. Then, at no.4, Dhoni has over 60. But all of these positions are unavailable with Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane and Suresh Raina all returning to the team. The first two have been rested from the team which travelled to Zimbabwe, and Raina was overlooked.
The return of Raina, considered a limited overs' specialist, has further compounded the situation. Yes, there's Mandeep Singh, Hardik Pandya, and of course Manish Pandey too, waiting in the wings to cement their respective places.
It's a known fact that Dhoni's two highest ODI scores have come while batting at 3, but he started batting lower down the order so and soon followed by the legend that we know today was to bat in – the finisher.
But with age catching up and notable dip in his output while batting lower down in recent matches, Dhoni may well promote himself and bat at 4, after the openers, Kohli and Rahane. The skipper coming at 4 means, India will get extra room to manoeuvre their batting around the experienced batsman, batting first or chasing.
Raina is out of the first ODI due to fever and Dhoni can utilise this opportunity and bat higher up. And who knows, it may well throw up a surprise or two.
The ODI series starts on October 16 at Dharamsala.