After the 2015 ODI World Cup, Mahendra Singh Dhoni came out and said that he wants to bat number at 4 as it will allow him to play more freely. The selectors approved this request, brought in players like Kedar Jadhav, Manish Pandey, Gurkeerat Singh Mann and Hardik Pandya who can play the role of a finisher when Dhoni bats up the order. The phenomenon went on for a while before the then skipper became more of a floater in the batting order. Earlier this year, when Dhoni gave up the captaincy, he again said that now he would like to bat in top 4 or 5 alongside Yuvraj Singh, just like the good old days. The duo had a great partnership against England bringing back the old memories.
Nine months later, as Dinesh Karthik scored a well-crafted half-century against New Zealand in Pune and added 50-runs for the fourth wicket with Hardik Pandya who came in to bat at number 5, MS Dhoni’s number 4 dream appears to be an unfulfilled promise. Since the England series, the team management has tried KL Rahul, Kedar Jadhav, Yuvraj Singh, Manish Pandey, Dinesh Karthik and Hardik Pandya at that spot.
They all have come good in patches but none of them has been able to cement his place. While Hardik Pandya was guiding India towards a win against New Zealand, Harsha Bhogle pointed towards the bigger problem that is building. “While we watch the development of Hardik Pandya with much interest, I must admit to being perplexed by Dhoni being dropped down the order,” he tweeted.
— BCCI (@BCCI) October 24, 2017
While other players were being promoted up the order, Dhoni’s batting position has gone down to number 6 and even 7 at times. If the team management has more confidence in Pandya who was brought in as a pinch-hitter, it is a sign of worry.
As much as the other players have done well to earn the spot, Dhoni’s inconsistency has also helped their cause. The former Indian captain took over 100 balls to score a half-century against West Indies a few months back as India failed to chase down a moderate total. His big hitting abilities have come down and Dhoni surely isn’t finding the gaps as he used to, maybe five years back.
Having said that, he has the experience and his skill is a huge asset for any side. There are not too many people in the world who can match up to his speed between the wickets. Dhoni will surely have a huge role to play in the 2019 ODI World Cup but for that, the management needs to pen down a definite role for him.