If one cricketer knows if Mahendra Singh Dhoni is stepping out for a six or just to take a single to get the bowler thinking, it is Suresh Raina. Having batted with Dhoni in the middle-order for India and Chennai Super Kings, the southpaw feels the No 4 slot ‘suits’ the 37-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman leading up to the World Cup.
Dhoni turned back the clock in the ODI series-win in Australia with three half-centuries in three games.
After finishing the Adelaide ODI batting at No 5, he was promoted to No 4 in Melbourne where he remained unbeaten on 87 to set another chase.
“Last couple of games, he has been batting well. He can bat well with the tailenders also. If he can bat at four, he can also finish games with the five, six and seven. A lot of players can play around him,” Raina told Sportstar on the eve of India’s first ODI against New Zealand in Napier.
India vice-captain Rohit Sharma was the first to endorse the No 4 slot for Dhoni post the 34-run loss in Sydney in the first game. Kohli went on to call the Adelaide night “an MS classic” but is still not certain if Dhoni should be locked as the new No 4. The position is yet to be “solidified”.
Raina, on the other hand, feels Kohli’s support gets Dhoni going. “He has been playing with a positive frame of mind. He is hitting the ball really well, and most importantly, he is getting a lot of backup and support from Virat (Kohli).”
“If you have the support of the captain, then you just go out there and express yourself. The No 4 slot suits him,” he added.
'Thinking like a batsman'
Former India and CSK batsman S Badrinath echoes Rohit and Raina. “Since Dhoni is experienced, he is capable to bat up the order where he can take his time and control the innings. He has so many balls to play. I think he is taking to it really well. Now, he is thinking like a batsman, which is important. You need to think like a middle-order batsman. He is pacing his innings well,” he said.
Badrinath further substantiated his view citing the number of ODIs that are happening outside the subcontinent before the World Cup that starts May 30. “The series against New Zealand as well as the World Cup will happen outside India. It will suit Dhoni really well. The wickets will not be as slow as the subcontinent. It augurs well for him,” he added.
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