Dhoni: Raina will continue batting at No. 4

Even as Suresh Raina is set to become the second Indian player to touch the half-century mark in T20 internationals here on Tuesday, captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (55 matches) confirmed that the left-hander will continue to bat at No. 4 in the upcoming three-match T20 series against Sri Lanka.

Dhoni is happy the team is playing T20 internationals in the run-up to the World Cup.   -  Vivek Bendre

Even as Suresh Raina is set to become the second Indian player to touch the half-century mark in T20 internationals here on Tuesday, captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (55 matches) confirmed that the left-hander will continue to bat at No. 4 in the upcoming three-match T20 series against Sri Lanka.

Raina has played 49 matches (43 innings) and has scored 471 runs, including a century (101 against South Africa in the 2010 World Cup), batting at No. 3. He has scored 238 runs in eight innings at No. 4. Raina will become the 30th player to play 50 T20 internationals.

During an interaction with the media in Pune on Monday, Dhoni said: "Raina will bat in a position that he’s likely to during the ICC World Twenty20. We will give him that exposure at No. 4. Usually, we get one match (T20) in a bilateral series; now we have three. There is an opportunity to make him bat at No. 3 (in the absence of Virat Kohli). But I think it will be more appropriate if he’s given No. 4."

>Listen to Indian skipper M. S. Dhoni's interaction with the media at the MCA International Cricket Stadium in Pune

The Indian captain felt good that the team is playing only T20 matches leading up to next month’s World Cup. "What’s good is that we are playing only T20. After this, there is the Asia Cup, and then a few warm-ups and then straightaway we go into the World Cup. This gives us time to get into the groove, because the requirements for this format are different.

"The last three games we played in Australia will also help us to adjust to the format. The conditions in this series will also be exactly the same as we will get during the World Cup," the skipper said.

IPL, talent pool

When asked if the IPL has truly become the supply line for India’s T20 team, he said: "I have always felt the IPL is the platform where you find out the talent and after that you follow them in the domestic circuit and see how they are performing. When it comes to the IPL, it’s a four-over format (for bowlers); one can get away with a lot of things. But to select a proper Test or One-Day cricketer just on the basis of T20 performance, I don’t think is the right thing to do. The IPL gives you an opportunity to spot talent and also assess whether they can consistently handle pressure well. Once you keep a close eye on them in the domestic circuit and give them a bit of exposure, you may get a bigger pool of players."

Touching upon the state of the pitch at the Gahunje village ground here, Dhoni believes it may have settled down. "Earlier it was on the slower side. Players found it difficult to play the big shots. We will see how the wicket behaves. The dew could also be a factor."

Dhoni doesn’t want to take the Sri Lankans lightly because they are short on experienced players. "The difference between the two teams in this format is very narrow. It boils down to how good your match-winners are playing. A team may have just one big hitter in the side and on his day, he can take the game away from you. It can happen in 10 or 12 balls.

"We will focus on things we have in our side. Sri Lanka has always been a side that plays good and competitive cricket. So it will be a good series."

Dhoni signed off by stating that the T20 team looks very balanced and hopes the individuals will take responsibilities of the roles they have in the side.

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