MS Dhoni eyes series-clinching win in Ranchi

Mahendra Singh Dhoni might be playing his last international match at his home ground, where India is unbeaten. The skipper will look to clinch the series with a big win.

ms dhoni

Mahendra Singh Dhoni's promotion to number four proved successful in Mohali. High on confidence, he will look to clinch the series at his home ground.   -  AFP

Nothing could spark a greater rejoicing in this region than the news of Mahendra Singh Dhoni playing a big knock. The Indian limited-overs captain produced just that innings in his team’s last outing at Mohali against New Zealand with a match defining 80.

As Dhoni returns to his hometown to lead his team in the fourth ODI against the visitor, the legend about his ability as one of the most successful cricketers of all times gains credence. More than the performance in the last match, which took him past 9000 runs in one-day cricket, Dhoni has successfully played in the minds of his fans while reaffirming his ability of attaining something masterful late in his career.

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In successfully bringing himself up the batting order, Dhoni also inspired a prolific Virat Kohli to be more imperious. In the Mohali match, the captain provided the quality partnership in sharing a 151-run partnership as his most capable colleague in the current team turned the match on its head with a hurricane 154.

Kohli, who remained unbeaten in his previous effort, continues to be the trump card with an aggregate of 248 runs as India — currently 2-1 up — looks to wrap up the five-match series with a game to go. Significantly, Kohli has remained undefeated (at 85 and 154) in both the matches India has won — in Dharmashala and Mohali — but the expectation is high about the Indian captain delivering something spectacular from his repertoire to make his homecoming memorable. Apart from the heightening expectations, Dhoni also looked to repair the fault-lines in the team batting which has not seen any good knock from others like Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Manish Pandey and Kedar Jadhav.

India has played three ODIs and a T20 international at this venue – the JSCA International Stadium – since hosting England in the first match in January 2013. It has won all except for the ODI against Australia, which was washed out. Having rested two of its notable spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, India has come out with a decent performance in bowling with a young stable. Amit Mishra, the most experienced of them all, has bagged eight wickets to be most successful while pacer Umesh Yadav and off-spinner Kedar Jadhav have shared 12 wickets among them. Young Jasprit Bumrah has five wickets, but has remained most economical of them all while Hardik Pandya, who made his ODI debut in this series, has worked up pace to a new intensity.

The visitor, which is faced with a must win situation, has drawn up arrears mostly in the batting department. Barring Tom Latham and the captain Kane Williamson, there are not many names in the New Zealand batting line-up who has scored enough runs. The seniors in the top order like Martin Guptill and Ross Taylor have mostly put up with struggles against the Indian bowling attack and that seems to rattle the visitor’s hopes of squaring up the series.

The lower order in the New Zealand batting has been more resolute, which came up best in the last match where New Zealand lost five middle order batsmen in 46 runs, but still recovered to post a fighting 285 in the end. The ninth-wicket partnership of 84 runs between James Neesham (57) and Matt Henry (39 not out) saved the visitor’s blushes. The Black Caps captain will be wishing that his batting department makes the recovery in time and takes the fight back to the host.


India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt.), Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Virat Kohli, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Amit Mishra, Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh Yadav, Jayant Yadav, Dhawal Kulkarni and Mandeep Singh.

New Zealand: Kane Williamson (capt.), Martin Guptill, Tom Latham, Ross Taylor, Corey Anderson, Luke Ronchi, James Neesham, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Ish Sodhi, Trent Bolt, Matt Henry, Anton Devcich, B.J. Watling and Doug Bracewell.

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