rohit sharma and ms dhoni
MS Dhoni (L) and MS Dhoni (AFP Photo)

Indian team management might have put their weight behind Ambati Rayudu as the ideal candidate to bat at the no. 4 spot in ODIs, but for Rohit Sharma , former captain MS Dhoni is an equally good if not a better option.

Last year captain Virat Kohli had said that Rayudu is the right person to bat at the spot and it would be the case going into the ICC World Cup later this year.

Dhoni, returning to international cricket after skipping the two straight T20I series against West Indies (home) and Australia (away), scored a half-century in the first ODI on Saturday. His 51 off 96, first since December 2017, came in a losing cause but was crucial in bailing India out of trouble. Chasing 289, India were reduced to 4/3 inside four overs when Dhoni walked in at No. 5 to join Rohit Sharma and they added 137 runs to keep their team’s diminishing hopes alive.

Rohit went on to score 133 but India fell short with Australia winning by 34 runs to take 1-0 lead in the three-match series.

“Personally, I always feel him (Dhoni) batting at No. 4 will be ideal for the team,” Rohit said at the post match press conference on Saturday. “Rayudu has done really well now at No. 4, so it totally depends what the captain and coach thinks about it. Personally asking, yes, I would be happy if he bats at No. 4.”

One of the biggest criticism of Dhoni’s batting in the past one year has been his strike-rate. His fifty on Saturday was scored at a strike-rate of 53.13 and will hand his critics more ammunition.

But Rohit defended the approach saying the Australian bowlers were on song and the situation demanded to settle and take time before bringing out the big hits.

“When he came out to bat today, we’d already lost three wickets, the guys were bowling pretty well and we had to respect that spell. We took a little bit of time, even myself, I took some time and didn’t score as quickly as I normally do. At that point losing another wicket the game would have been dead, so we wanted to make sure we take the game forward so we had to play dot balls. It’s a good sign for us that he (Dhoni) showed he can come out and bat whenever the team wants him to bat,” Rohit said.

The stage was set for a close finish after Rohit and Dhoni had taken the score to 141/3. However, Jason Behrendorff trapped Dhoni lbw and with no reviews left, he had to take the long walk back to the dressing room.

India had burnt their review when Rayudu unsuccessfully used the DRS to challenge a lbw call. “It’s always tricky, when to take it (DRS) and when not. Rayudu thought the ball was drifting down leg and I thought the same. These things happen. You can’t always be right. But it is important to use the DRS well and we’ve spoken a lot about it. It’s such a split second decision. We might have a chat in Adelaide but what’s done is done,” he said.

Rohit said the team failed to absorb pressure and the defeat should serve as a learning curve. “I think it was a good learning but we’ve said that enough about learning now, it’s time to go an execute – take the pressure, absorb the pressure. International cricket is all about absorbing pressure, today was the perfect example, we were put under pressure and not able to absorb it.

“We believe in (Ravindra) Jadeja to play those cameo innings when required but the asking rate was way too much when he came to bat. For any batsman to just start playing shots is not that easy…so I don’t think it’s a worry, but it’s an eye-opener. Sometimes there will be times where No. 6, 7, 8 need to score those crucial runs but we totally believe in Jadeja to do that.”