CHENNAI: India’s chief coach Ravi Shastri put speculation to rest when he said recently that MS Dhoni was not even “half-finished’’, adding that there is no reason why he shouldn’t continue till the 2019 World Cup. However, there is still speculation regarding where the former captain is best suited to bat in the line-up. Dhoni said sometime back he wished to bat at No 4, for he was not able to play the role of a finisher any longer. There have been times when he has batted at No 5 as well.
But the Jharkhand hero’s exploits in Sri Lanka, where he rallied with Bhuvneshwar Kumar to bail India out of a tricky situation, and in Chennai in the first ODI against Australia, where he rescued India from 87/5, makes the think tank believe that No 6 is the best position for Dhoni.
“Dhoni did a brilliant job in Sri Lanka with Bhuvi. Again in Chennai, he mentored Hardik Pandya to play that brilliant inning and put up a century stand. We feel keeping the team’s interests in mind, Dhoni is best suited for the No 6 role,” said a source close to the think tank.
“Another reason why we want him to bat lower down is to ensure that the bottom half has some experience. If he bats in the top half and India lose quick wickets, there will huge pressure on the bottom half. Yes, we have Pandya now, but you need a player with more experience since 300-plus is the norm today,’’ added the source.
But former national selector VB Chandrasekar, who with Dhoni was part of the Chennai Super Kings think tank in the first few years of IPL, believes the veteran can play anywhere. “Dhoni is a class player, he can play at any position. I told him sometime back he can bat anywhere in the order. He can hit the fast bowlers and spinners with equal felicity,’’ said VB.
“But yes, keeping in mind the team we have and the fact that he mentored wonderfully the likes of Bhuvi in Sri Lanka and Pandya in Chennai, he has a role to play and that makes him ideally suited for No 5 or 6,’’ added VB.
The former India opener believes it is time India settled the No 4 and 5 slots. “To me, the first three should bat as per plan. The rest of the numbers (positions) should change as per the situation. The other day Pandya played at No 4 and made an impact. Likewise, if 15 overs are remaining and we need runs, then Dhoni can be promoted. In that situation he has the best experience to go about the task,’’ opined VB.