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India vs South Africa 2013-14: MS Dhoni’s batting position conundrum

India vs South Africa 2013-14: MS Dhoni's batting position conundrum
Batting at No 4 position, MS Dhoni has scored 910 runs at an average of 70 and strike-rate of 103.40 © Getty Images

By Aayush Puthran

 

It is sometimes hard to fathom with what blessed powers has Mahendra Singh Dhoni gotten into cricket. For someone who took to the game at the age of 15, he seems possessed with superhero powers that one would generally find in American flicks.

 

As years have gone by, the Indian team has just gotten more reliant on the Jharkhand man. And unfailingly every time, he has answered the call (no pun intended). The journey started in 2004 and it still continues. From a wicketkeeper to an all-rounder to a captain to a finisher to being a front-line batsman, Dhoni’s utility has never been out of demand. Even as he plays a few ungainly strokes and awkwardly defends, Dhoni is still effective. He does his job and does it with as much perfection as one wishes to watch him to do.

 

Even as South Africa in the first One-Day International (ODI) at Johannesburg found the entire batting looked like jumping ducks, the Indian skipper brought in a sense of calm and authority. He may have looked unpleasant, while trying to get behind the line of the ball, but he hung in there confidently. What this does in current circumstances is that it reignites the debate of what is the best position for Dhoni to bat at in ODIs. The Indian top-order needs a more stable option with two of their three most experienced batsmen Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina looking highly uncomfortable against quality pace.

 

In the last 25 ODIs India has played, Raina averages just 25.50. More importantly, he still seems clueless against short-pitched bowling. It is crucial that he sorts out the problem at the earliest, or else there will be little point in taking him to Australia for the ICC World Cup 2015.

 

Yuvraj’s year has been worse. He has scored at an average of 19.71 from 17 games in 2013. In his last nine innings, he has recorded four ducks. More than all the numbers, both the left-handers have been exposed of their weakness.

 

The top-three in the line-up have a lot of swagger and flair. There needs to be a calmer head and a more reliable option at No 4, as compared to what is there now. There are only a few in world cricket who operate in different gears as smoothly and soak in pressure as well as the Indian skipper does. Thus, it seems an ideal time for Dhoni to push himself up the order and provide an option that is not outlandish, but at the same time effective and interesting. His ability to keep the scoreboard moving will also ensure that the team is not strangled for runs.

 

Moving Raina and Yuvraj down the order might also help in assessing their utility ahead of the 50-over World Cup and take the necessary calls with regard to their place in the side.

 

 

MS Dhoni’s batting record in different positions

 


Position

Innings

Runs

Ave

SR

100s

50s

Opening

2

98

49.00

86.72

0

1

3

16

993

82.75

99.69

2

6

4

18

910

70.00

103.40

1

9

5

48

1910

54.57

85.53

3

9

6

93

2981

46.57

84.42

1

21

7

28

812

47.76

94.97

2

5

8

3

51

17.00

62.19

0

0

 

(Aayush Puthran is a reporter with CricketCountry. Mercurially jovial, pseudo pompous, perpetually curious and occasionally confused, he is always up for a light-hearted chat over a few cups of filter kaapi!)

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