Centurion Rohit Sharma defends Dhoni’s 96-ball 51 as India lose first ODI to Australia by 34 runs; feels wicketkeeper-batsman is ideal for the No. 4 slot
India’s Mahendra Singh Dhoni (right) and Rohit Sharma during their 137-run stand against Australia at the SCG on Saturday. Pic/AFP
Differing with his skipper Virat Kohli’s views, India’s ODI vice-captain Rohit Sharma on Saturday said Mahendra Singh Dhoni is “ideal” for the No. 4 slot, as the team work on getting the batting order right for the World Cup. However, Rohit added it was his personal view and that the captain and the coach will have the final say on the batting slots. Dhoni on Saturday made a slow 51 from 96 balls in India’s 34-run defeat to Australia in the first ODI, sparking another debate about his current form in a World Cup year.
“Personally, I always feel that Dhoni batting at No. 4 will be ideal for the team but we have got Ambati Rayudu, who has done really well now at No. 4. It totally depends on what the captain and coach think about it. Personally, I would be happy if Dhoni bats at four,” Rohit, who scored 133 off 129 deliveries, said at the post-match conference. Kohli had earlier expressed his preference for Rayudu over other players for the contentious position.
India’s poor start
Chasing 289 for a win, India were at one stage reduced to 4 for 3 before Rohit, who scored his 22nd ODI hundred, and Dhoni put on a 137-run partnership for the fourth wicket. But India, in the end, fell short. “If you look at his [Dhoni’s] overall batting, his strike rate is around 90. Today was a different scenario. When he came out to bat we had already lost three wickets. You just cannot go out and get a 100-run partnership easily, so we took a little bit of time and even I did not score as quickly as I normally do,” Rohit said.
‘Wanted to build a partnership’
“I took my time too because we wanted to get that partnership and losing another wicket at that point, the game would have been dead there and then. So, we had to play dot balls and build a partnership,” he explained. Rohit, who had described Dhoni as the “guiding light of the group” ahead of the match, also said that the former captain was ready to bat anywhere for the team.
“It was great to see him come and bat at No 5. Over the years, he has shown he is ready to bat anywhere for the team and score runs.” India’s top-order was exposed after they lost Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan early on, as well as Ambati Rayudu for a two-ball duck. Rohit said it put pressure on other batsmen to build a partnership but denied suggestions that India’s middle-order is light weight.
Total number of runs scored by MS Dhoni in ODIs for India. He is the fifth batsman to score 10,000-plus runs for the country
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