The answer to India’s long-standing problem at No.4 in the one-day international batting order is MS Dhoni, according to Zaheer Khan, the former India paceman.
India have tried any number of options for the crucial batting position, and though Dhoni has batted at two-drop before, he has been seen more as a finisher.
A batting average of 50.99 and strike rate of 88.10 from 322 ODIs marks out Dhoni, who led India to the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 title, as one of the modern-day greats, but he hasn’t been in his usual supreme touch of late.
In his most recent ODI outings, he scored 37 from 59 balls and 42 from 66 balls in England – India lost both games. And then, on Tuesday, 18 September against Hong Kong in the Asia Cup, the 37-year-old scored a three-ball duck from No.5.
But Khan, who was an important part of the team Dhoni led, the left-arm paceman very much a part of the think tank and often referred to as the bowling captain, feels there’s a future for Dhoni higher up the order.
“At No. 4, I do feel someone like MS Dhoni needs to give a go ahead because keeping the World Cup in mind, it's a very crucial position to soak in pressure and play according to the situation,” Khan was quoted as saying by The Times of India.
“So far, the Indian team has been winning matches when they have had a great start, but in situations where they do not have a good start, experience is required to control the situation.”
At the Asia Cup, where India go up against Pakistan on Wednesday in their last group game, the team is also missing Virat Kohli, the regular captain. Rohit Sharma is the captain, and India batted Ambati Rayudu (60 in 70 balls) at No.3, Kohli’s usual position, and Dinesh Karthik (33 in 38) at No.4.
Khan feels KL Rahul, who was left out, should get Kohli’s spot, confident as he is likely to be after scoring a 149 in his last Test innings in England.
“Rahul will get some confidence from his last Test-match innings. The brilliant 150 (149) which he scored should give him enough self-assurance,” said Khan, the 39-year-old who retired with 610 wickets in international cricket.
“He should be the one batting at No. 3 as Rohit and Shikhar (Dhawan) have been extremely consistent batting at one and two and Rahul will be filling in the gap with regards to Kohli.”