Rahane less suitable to bat lower in the order: Dhoni

"Batting down, especially at five, six and seven, he (Rahane) faces more difficulty. We have seen that when he is more flamboyant or more free when he bats up the order with a bit of field restrictions. Once he gets a good start he can capitalise in the middle overs," said Dhoni at the press conference ahead of the first One-Day International (ODI) between India and South Africa in Kanpur.

Ravichandran Ashwin may have Amit Mishra and Axar Patel assisting him in his spin responsibilities in Kanpur.   -  K.R.Deepak

Ajinkya Rahane   -  AP

India's limited-overs captain M.S. Dhoni has said that he finds it difficult to accommodate Ajinkya Rahane as a lower-order batsman while trying to strike the right balance in his team.

On the eve of India's first One-Day International (ODI) against the Proteas at the Green Park here, Dhoni said Rahane was best suited for the top order. “Batting down, especially at five, six and seven, he (Rahane) faces more difficulty. We have seen that when he is more flamboyant or more free when he bats up the order with a bit of field restrictions. Once he gets a good start he can capitalise in the middle overs,” said Dhoni at the pre-match press conference.

During the series against Bangladesh, Dhoni had expressed similar opinions about Rahane but the selectors had reposed faith in the Mumbai batsman by making him the captain for the short series against Zimbabwe.

With Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli firmly established in top three slots and Dhoni himself trying to find his feet at No. 4, Rahane's spot in the playing XI looks difficult.

“Sometimes even number four is quite low for him. I think he is somebody who should bat up the order. Opening is a slot that fits him really well,” said Dhoni.

“Also, it is slightly different for us. For the people who bat at first class, for example Rohit bats at No. 4 in first class, or No. 3 or No. 5, but over here he opens for us. If you see history there are a lot of individuals who have done that...So it is slightly difficult for him (Rahane) now, especially when I am looking for someone who can bat No. 5, 6 and 7. Given a chance, we will try to feature him in top three, but if not we will find it difficult to feature.”

The Indian captain rated South Africa highly for its balance and said the Proteas' exposure to Indian Premier League (IPL) had helped them adapt well.

Dhoni said he might field three-spinners here. “We will see how dry is the wicket and what are the chances of it breaking up and assisting the spinners. Dew would not have any impact on this game, so definitely three spinners option is available for us. We have to keep the early start in mind too.”

However, Dhoni's counterpart AB de Villiers had a different view. “Doesn’t look like a spinning track. But we are prepared to play a lot of spin.”

De Villiers was delighted to welcome strike bowlers Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn to the squad. “They bring a lot of experience and better energy to the team.

“We have got a very good, balanced bowling attack. We don’t lean too much on the spinners or the seam bowlers. We have got firepower in all departments of our bowling.”

De Villiers relished the momentum for his team following the series victory in Twenty20 internationals and continue the good form in the ODIs as well.