It might look like a done deal but the Indian team think-tank would be currently facing a huge conundrum when it comes to deciding the batting lineup because in many ways the batsman that has proven to be an asset for most of the year could prove to be a liability for the team at the world cup if he’s not used at an optimal number. And shockingly the name in the discussion is none other than MS Dhoni.
It won’t be wrong to say that Dhoni has been the standout batsman this year for the team but at the same time it becomes very important to not turn a blind eye to the fact that he’s not the same Dhoni anymore, he cannot score a 50 off 20 balls as he is not the same powerhouse he used to be in his prime. But at the same time what he has shown is that he is probably the most reliable batsman in the Indian unit and he almost never throws his wicket away.
Coming back to the conundrum about the optimal batting position for Dhoni, It’s common knowledge that he takes time to get going in an innings and to add to that because of age he’s just not able to compensate anymore for the number of balls he consumes early in the innings as his hitting ability has declined by a few notches. In all likelihood it raises the argument that has been raised throughout his career but couldn’t be more valid than at this stage of his career. Dhoni at No.4 should be his ideal batting position.
At the same point of time, it raises questions about the rest of the batting lineup. Rayadu has done a good job whenever he’s got a chance(he boasts a staggering average of close to 50 in ODIs) but Rayadu himself doesn’t really boast of an impressive strike rate in ODIs(only around the 80s). Does moving him to no.5 destabilize the team too much or does it give India a better chance to utilize Dhoni in the best possible position?
It’s a choice that the team needs to make because in case of a big partnership at the top Dhoni does become a bit obsolete(as sending him near the death overs could lead to consumption of too many balls). On the other hand, India could follow a completely different route by dropping Rayadu and playing Dinesh Karthik instead which would elevate Dhoni and Jadhav to 4th and 5th respectively in the batting order with Karthik at no.6 and Hardik at no.7 acting as the finishers. These are just the permutations that the team can tinker with during the series to reach the final order before the World Cup. In Dhoni India have a resource which could turn out to be both an asset and a liability depending on how they use him.