It's the first time that India have lost a bilateral ODI series under Virat Kohli. The talking point of the tournament on one hand was Kuldeep Yadav and his brilliance and the other was MS Dhoni and his waning batting prowess. Right now, India have a couple of problems to address. One is the future of MS Dhoni and his role in the side and the other is finding out who bats at No.4. The latter has seemed to exist for too long now. Time is ticking as the 2019 World Cup draws closer.
"India are a country so rich in batting talent that other sides drool over, and yet can't find a proper player to bat at No.4" - Harsha Bhogle
Ajinkya Rahane, Yuvraj Singh, Ambati Rayudu, Manish Pandey, KL Rahul and now to complete the circle, Dinesh Karthik (who played at No.4 in the 2013 Champions Trophy) have all been slotted at No.4 at some point within the last 4 years. So many players tried and tested, so many promising players and yet nobody has grabbed the opportunity and made the most out of it. It's high time that, maybe India should stop looking for an outside solution and start looking at whom they already have- MS Dhoni.
Lets look at Dhoni more closely now. In this series he's got 79 runs in 3 innings at a strike rate of 63.2, averaging 39.5 with the highest score being 42.
Now what’s most concerning there is the strike rate, he’s got a career strike rate of 88.13 but then if we start to differentiate between before 2015 and since 2015, the numbers are staggering once again.
The average drops to 45.21 and the strike rate more notable drops from 93.98 to just 80.54. Now that’s a large disparity. You cannot have your finisher striking at just a shade over 80. So, its time India looked at Dhoni differently.
In all the innings he’s played of late, he’s allowed the batting to revolve around him and he’s held up one end and been the anchor. That’s exactly what India need at no.4, somebody who can come in and anchor the innings and hold one end up.
Had India put out an advertisement asking people willing to bat at no.4 to apply, MS Dhoni’s application would match the criteria perfectly. Average of 45 and strike rate of 80, that’s how India has to see Dhoni from here on. It could solve a lot of problems, it’ll probably be a rediscovery for Dhoni. If the need does arise and Dhoni is at the crease having already faced 30 balls, there’s no doubt that he still has it in him to clear the field.
India can start looking towards Dinesh Karthik or Rishabh Pant to bat at no.6. Both of them have had excellent IPL seasons and a lot of their notable knocks have come in the role of a finisher. So, India should start looking beyond Dhoni as a finisher and promote him up the order to No.4 spot.