Australia vs India 2018-19: Is MS Dhoni, the batsman, a weak link in the Indian ODI squad?
The Indian ODI team has had a stellar 2018, and they embark on the all-important 2019 season with a three-match series against Australia. From now onwards, every single ODI match and series will be crucial for India as they would look to fine-tune their preparations for the upcoming ICC World Cup.
There are many players in this squad who have cemented their position for the upcoming World Cup. Some of them are coming off a successful test series against Australia, though not all of them had a great series individually.
Then there are some who are no longer a part of the Test format, but are integral to India's ODI scheme of things. There are also some players who are coming off a long injury lay-off too. Hence, the upcoming series will be an interesting one to see where the team stands now and what it needs to do for further improvement.
Even though the Indian ODI team is a formidable one, there is possibly one glaring weak link in the squad which will face Australia. It is probably the elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about.
One is talking of MS Dhoni here. Not the wicket-keeper Dhoni, but the batsman Dhoni who will occupy the crucial number six position in the Indian batting line up.
At present, it is almost certain that MS Dhoni will bat at number six, ahead of Hardik Pandya. There is no doubting Dhoni’s batting prowess. He is possibly India’s best ever finisher in the ODI format.
But in recent times, his batting form has seen an alarming decline. This could be a major problem if the Indian top order fails to fire on a given day and he is required to bail the team out.
Even during his best days, Dhoni was a slow starter. But with the average ODI team totals increasing in recent years, he will need to find ways to keep rotating strike at the beginning of his innings and then accelerate, something he has rarely been able to do in recent times.
He is by far the best wicket-keeper that India has right now, but is he the best batsman for India to have at number six? On the evidence of his recent struggles with the bat, the answer is probably in the negative.