During the just concluded one-day series against Bangladesh, Indian skipper MS Dhoni decided to promote himself up the order. For the majority of his career, the wicket-keeper has been batting lower down the order, at number six or seven, and has turned around numerous games for India with his batting exploits. However, in recent times, he hasn't really looked in great touch. Unlike is younger days, Dhoni isn't able to play freely these days. He needs to time to settle in, and even then he hasn't always set the stage on fire. Under the circumstances, the Indian captain has made a smart decision of batting up the order.
Coming into bat at number four, Dhoni can do a lot more than he does when he bats lower down the order. First and foremost, he can get time to get his eye in. As mentioned earlier, he isn't as fluent with the bat as he was before. Batting at number four, he can build his innings, not worrying about going for the big hits. Having said that, if Dhoni does continue batting up the order, he must ensure that he consistently gets big scores. Also, he must ensure that he gets the big hits when the team needs them. As already stated, in the recent past, that hasn't been the case. Thus, he must make sure that he utilises the opportunity to get bigger scores at a fast pace.
With Dhoni batting up the order, it would mean that Suresh Raina will have to take up additional responsibility of shepherding the lower order apart from, of course, getting in the big hits. Earlier, Dhoni and Raina hunted in pairs, featuring in numerous match-winning partnerships. But, Raina will now have to go solo. Of course there are some good players in the lower order, in the likes of Ravichandran Ashwin and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, but they aren't as aggressive as Dhoni and Raina. The challenge for the left-hander would thus be to balance his attacking game while building partnerships with the lower order.
India's batting failed miserably in the one-dayers in Bangladesh. Thus, it is important that they have a look at their batting line-up. For now, the openers Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma have secured their places at the top of the order. Virat Kohli may have been failing at number three recently, but since he has had such an unprecedented success rate at the position, one cannot think of displacing him from that spot.
Ajinkya Rahane seemed to have made his place at number five his own, when not opening, but with the think tank keen on bringing in Ambati Rayudu into the mix, Rahane has lost his place. Both players in mention are good in their own right, so choosing one will be a tough choice. Ultimately, a call should be taken based on what is best for the team.
-- By A Cricket Analyst