We used to decide Dhoni's batting position based on match situation: Gary Kirsten
Gary Kirsten and MS Dhoni have been the touted as the two men who resurrected Indian cricket after the disastrous 2007 World Cup campaign, taking India to a World Cup victory four years later in 2011. Under Kirsten and Dhoni, India also went onto become the number one Test team and were considered true world beaters during that phase.
Although Kirsten did not renew his contract post the 2011 World Cup win, both Kirsten and Dhoni are known to share a great bond ever since then.
Kirsten was recently in Mumbai to attend a coaching clinic, where he also addressed the media. Kirsten was mostly asked questions about his stint as India coach, and especially about working with captain MS Dhoni.
MS Dhoni, who has remarkably led India to various trophies like the ICC World Cup, the ICC Champions Trophy, and the ICC T20 World Cup, has been out of form in recent times and many believe that it is time for Dhoni to make way for Virat Kohli, who’s constantly proving his captaincy mettle in the Test arena.
During his interaction with the media, Kirsten dismissed the claims that Dhoni had lost his mojo. Kirsten told the press: "I get asked most (about Dhoni). My answer hasn't changed in three years. Dhoni is the best leader I have worked with. His record for the last 10 years speaks for itself. He's up there with India's greatest captains. His one-day batting and record as a finisher are great. Anyone doubting his ability is greatly mistaken. It is exciting to see him doing well."
In the recently concluded ODI series against New Zealand, Dhoni promoted himself at number four and scored a brisk 80 in Mohali, showing glimpses of his former self. In the post game interview in Mohali, Dhoni mentioned that he was losing his ability to rotate strike, and batting up the order allowed him to express himself more freely.
During the night of the final at Wankhede in 2011, Dhoni famously promoted himself ahead of Yuvraj Singh at number five. Kirsten was the first person to whom Dhoni revealed his intentions about batting up the order to counter Muttiah Muralitharan, a fact which was revealed in Dhoni’s biopic. According to Kirsten, Dhoni’s batting position wasn’t always pre-decided and depended on the situation of the match.
"Dhoni can bat in a lot of positions. We decided on his batting-order based on situations. I always liked to have him when we had 100 to win. No one better than him in those positions. He wanted to come in a bit earlier and have some more time," Kirsten said.