MS Dhoni recently scored his second T20I fifty in the second T20I against South Africa. He was under pressure for his patchy form and despite call for Virat Kohli to move Dhoni up the order; he has been batting at no.6 in the South Africa series.
The current MS Dhoni has unfortunately lost the ability to hit sixes at will like he used to do 2-3 years back. Dhoni used to take the matches to last overs with immense confidence that he could clear the ropes whenever he wanted. One can remember the tri-series final against Sri Lanka in West Indies some years ago when MS Dhoni single-handedly won the match by hitting a six.
The current MS Dhoni still possesses the power to do so, but the timing is no longer there. He still hits the odd big ones out of the ground occasionally, but he can no longer be trusted to do the same on a consistent basis.
Even MS Dhoni knows that and has changed his game accordingly. He is supremely fit and now takes more singles and doubles in order to construct a game or pave a way for the hitters in the end of a chase. He runs hard between the wickets and now has become the accumulator of runs.
His new method of batting makes him an excellent no.4 batsman for Team India. Dhoni plays both quicks and spinners well and knows how to keep the scoreboard ticking. Unlike Ajinkya Rahane, he doesn’t get stuck in the early part of his innings when you are needed to take singles and keep the scoreboard ticking. He can occasionally hit the big one to keep a check on the run rate and when the time comes, leaves a brilliant platform for take-off in the end overs.
Talking of numbers, MS Dhoni has batted at no.4 for 27 innings and scored 1230 runs with a best of 109* and has scored 11 half-centuries at the position. His strike rate is 94.98 and his average is 55.91, which is his second best after the no.3 position.
Virat Kohli at no.3 and MS Dhoni at no.4 will be the perfect batting order after the openers Dhawan and Rohit have done their work at the top. Both Kohli and Dhoni play risk-less cricket and are adamant on keeping the ball on the ground, yet know how to keep their strike rate close to 100. Dhoni still can hit those big shots and with the finisher’s role now been passed onto the likes of Hardik Pandya and even Suresh Raina, India can bank upon building a very good batting unit going into the 2019 World Cup in England.
It is just the stubbornness of the team management to refuse to admit that MS Dhoni is no longer the same finisher he was 3 years ago; that is keeping him from moving to the no.4 position in the batting order. In the twilight of his career, Dhoni will be more useful to the team up the order, rather than trying to finish matches and failing embarrassingly.
With 2019 World Cup merely 18 months away, captain Virat Kohli and Indian team management needs to identify the perfect players for the batting spots in mind and there are only two spots available as of now; the no.4 and the no.5 spot. With Suresh Raina making a return to the Indian team and if he does well in the chances he gets, Raina will occupy the no.5 spot and along with Hardik Pandya play the role of finisher. This makes MS Dhoni the perfect person to anchor the innings and make the other batsmen play around him and Virat Kohli.
Given that the 2019 World Cup will probably MS Dhoni’s swansong, it will only be fitting that Dhoni is given the freedom to bat where he fits in the best way possible and that position is the no.4 position. He will be able to dictate the game well from that position and bat through the innings, aiding Kohli and Pandya both in destroying the opposition bowling.
In conclusion, it is high time that the team management realizes that the perfect person that they have been searching for the no.4 position for the team, has been batting for them at no.5 or no.6 and his name is Mahendra Singh Dhoni.