Home > Features >

MS Dhoni should bat at No 5 to stabilise Indian batting

MS Dhoni has to move himself up the order to provide more stability to India's batting © Getty Images
MS Dhoni has to move himself up the order to provide more stability to India’s batting © Getty Images

By Shrikant Shankar

India have struggled to find a consistent batsman for the No 4 and No 5 slots in One-Day Internationals (ODIs) off late. All batting positions are important in any form of cricket, and if there are issues in two of the top-order slots, a team if bound to struggle. It can quite happen that a flurry of early wickets can leave a team in a tough situation, but the middle-order has to be able to cope with that and stitch together partnerships and build innings. India are currently unable to do that due to the poor form of some of their players. That is why the man perennially in form — MS Dhoni should bat at No 5 rather than No 6 for India.

The top three positions in the Indian ODI batting order are set — at least for now. Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma will be India’s opening pair for the time-being despite their own recent lack of runs. They have done well as a pair and need this experience of batting together in New Zealand conditions in order to prepare for the ICC World Cup 2015 jointly hosted in Australia and New Zealand. Let’s leave any talk about the No 3 position as there is no one better in the world than Virat Kohli for that position. It is the No 4 and No 5 slots that are causing India a concern at the moment.

They have tested many players at those slots in the last few months. Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Ambati Rayudu and Dinesh Karthik have primarily been used at No 4 from the ICC Champions Trophy 2013. It is an important position and for the first ODI against New Zealand at Napier, Ajinkya Rahane was used. But Rahane has not been given enough chances for India and he needs more time. The No 5 position, however, is another area of concern. From the Champions Trophy onwards, only four players have been used at No 5 fore India — Raina, Yuvraj, Karthik and Dhoni. The Indian captain has played only one innings at No 5 in that time period, so, let us exclude him from our analysis.

Below is a table of Indian batsmen who have batted at the No 5 position from June 1, 2013, onwards in ODIs:

Player

M

R

Ave

SR

HS

Suresh Raina

16

238

21.63

82.06

44

Yuvraj Singh

6

19

4.75

76.00

12

Dinesh Karthik

5

38

19.00

56.71

22

Note: Dhoni has not been included in this list.

Dhoni has always been a massive player for India. He may not have the greatest of techniques, but he can score a lot of runs and fast. His average in ODIs is at a lofty 52.79. This shows that for the most part of his career, he has been in great form. He is also one of the few batsmen who have batted in Australian and New Zealand’s conditions before. He seems to outscore batsmen at the No 4 and No 5 slots from his usual No 6 position on a regular basis. Clearly, after Kohli, Dhoni is India’s best batsman form wise. Dhoni has excelled in most of the positions he has batted in throughout his career.

Below is a table showing Dhoni’s career ODI records while batting at No 4, No 5 and No 6:

Batting position

M

R

Ave

SR

100s

50s

HS

No 4

18

910

70

103.4

1

9

109*

No 5

48

1,910

54.57

85.53

3

9

124

No 6

95

3,040

46.06

84.25

1

21

139*

For the bulk of his career, Dhoni has batted at No 5 and No 6. From the start of his career till about the last year or two, Dhoni has had the batsmen of the caliber of Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj, Sourav Ganguly, Gautam Gambhir and Kohli in the team. When these players have been a part of the team and also in great knick, Dhoni was not needed higher up than No 6. Plus, Dhoni is India’s best finisher in the shorter formats, so, it didn’t make sense for him to bat higher.

But now there seems to be a genuine problem at the No 5 position. Even if India get off the fliers and the top-order clicks, there does not seem to be batsmen who can carry the momentum forward and to help achieve victory. In fact, all the momentum is lost and Dhoni has to do a lot more to bail India out. The table shows that Dhoni has his best numbers in ODIs when he has batted at No 5. This is simply due to the fact that he gets a lot more time and deliveries to get settled in and then power-on.

Things are not working that well right now for India and that is why Dhoni must bat higher up the order. If things click, then it can only improve India and help them in the defence of their World Cup crown. And on that note, one should not forget that Dhoni batted at No 5 to win India the 2011 World Cup final.

(Shrikant Shankar is a writer/reporter at CricketCountry.com. Previously he has done audio commentary for various matches involving India, Indian Premier League and Champions League Twenty20 for ESPNSTAR.com. You can follow him on Twitter @Shrikant_23)

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 20, 2014 (14:30 IST)   at Kolkata

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 22, 2014 (11:30 IST)   at Dubai

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 22, 2014 (19:00 IST)   at Cuttack

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Oct 25, 2014 (09:30 IST)   at Dhaka

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 27, 2014 (03:00 IST)   at Hamilton

More

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 24, 2014  at Mount Maunganui

South Africa won by 72 runs

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 21, 2014  at Mount Maunganui

South Africa won by 6 wkts

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 17, 2014  at Dharamsala

India won by 59 runs

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 14, 2014  at Visakhapatnam

Match cancelled

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 12, 2014  at Abu Dhabi

Australia won by 1 run

Photos

Pakistan vs Australia, 1st Test at Dubai

Videos

Amla feels Proteas more acclimatised to conditions

Pakistan eye victory as Australia reel at 59/4 at stumps on Day 4

Suresh Raina gifts Aditya Garhwal an autographed bat

Dwayne Bravo says West Indies pull-out had everybody’s consent

Bangladesh gain upper-hand over Zimbabwe at stumps on Day 1 of 1st Test

David Warner and others with records related to hundreds in consecutive Test innings

Australia Australia tour of UAE 2014 Australia vs Pakistan Australia vs Pakistan 2014 Duleep Trophy India New Zealand New Zealand vs South Africa 2014 Pakistan Pakistan vs Australia Pakistan vs Australia 2014 South Africa South Africa tour of New Zealand 2014 South Africa vs New Zealand 2014

Pakistan vs Australia 2014: Younis Khan considered skipping Tests

Michael Clarke: Younis Khan is one of the gentlemen of our game

Duleep Trophy 2014: Central Zone to meet South Zone in final

Pakistan eye victory as Australia reel at 59/4 at stumps on Day 4

Pakistan vs Australia 2014: David Warner admits that Australia is not scared of big targets

TE Srinivasan: Graceful at the crease and in death

Duleep Trophy 2014-15: Six things we learnt from the quarter-finals and semi-finals

Fazal Mahmood engineers Pakistan’s first ever Test match victory

Saeed Ajmal or not, Pakistan’s spin attack marches on

Younis Khan — Pakistan’s greatest batsman?

Fan of the Day

Suraj Gowda

Suraj Gowda

642 Posts | 9 Fans

Virat Kohli's Family Meets Anushka Sharma

Apple to merge Beats Music with iTunes next year as music sales fall 14 percent in 2014: WSJ

Top Sex Positions: Frog Princess

International programme in Animal Husbandry

Pakistan vs Australia 2014: Younis Khan considered skipping Tests

How to make tamarind or imli packs for hair and skin

WTA Finals 2014: Sania Mirza and Cara Black shock Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik to secure final berth

New Zealand vs South Africa 2014: Indifferent start to New Zealand’s World Cup preparations

Dear IAF, every smartphone not just Xiaomi could be a security threat

NGOs pursue education for all

ISL 2014, 12th Match: Delhi Dynamos FC 4-1 Chennaiyin FC in Pics

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here