Mumbai: Doubts about MS Dhoni’s place in the Indian cricket team were put to rest in January after the veteran cricketer emerged as the Man of the Series in the recently concluded Australia ODI series, which the Men in Blue won by a margin of 2-1.
But with the Virat Kohli-led side still a few months away from the all-important ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, they are yet to find out a solution to their middle-order conundrum.
Although captain Kohli feels Dhoni is best suited playing at the number 5 position going ahead, former Team India coach Anil Kumble suggested that the Jharkhand wicketkeeper-batsman should bat at number four given his experience.
“I think there is a lot of talk especially when MS comes into the batting line up. About not having to go all the way and win matches. He has done that in Australia, he has done that many numbers of times. I still believe that he is someone who can bat at number four. If India is in trouble, push him up. He will take his time, you need that and then he has the experience so that he makes sure he bats till the end. And others can be a bit positive around him. I think that is the role he will play and his experience is really needed not just in front of the stumps and also behind the stumps,” Kumble was quoted as saying by Cricket Next.
“I think that experience nobody has so I don't think there should be any talk now about MS Dhoni or his batting I think. It is all about how he can go out there and contribute in the World Cup. Leading up to the World Cup, these five matches in India and of course the IPL is there for him. So I think there is plenty of white ball cricket he will be involved in as well. So that should help him get into his rhythm,” the legendary leg-spinner added.
Although Ambati Rayudu has proved his credentials for the role, Kumble feels pushing Dhoni to number four would give him enough time to play freely and anchor the innings.
“I would still push him up at four. I know Rayudu has done exceptionally well at four but I would still push him at four and give him the freedom of just go out there and play really quick not necessarily look to consolidate unless there is an issue of top three batting till the 30th over or the 35th over then you could look to use the other batsman who can just go in and play your shots but otherwise I would rather have him at four,” he concluded.
However, recently during an interview, Ravi Shastri hinted that the management could demote Virat Kohli at number four to provide more flexibility.
"The good thing about this Indian top-three is we can separate them if conditions and situations demand. Someone like Virat Kohli can go to number four, and we can put a good number three to bring more balance to the batting line-up. That's flexibility for you, and for big tournaments like the World Cup, you have to be flexible to see what's the best balance for the side. So we will decide that (accordingly in England). Maybe Rayudu, or someone else, could bat at number three, and Kohli comes in at number four. We wouldn't want to disturb the opening combination. Separating the top-three could make the batting stronger,” he told Cricbuzz.