How Dhoni’s innings in the 3rd ODI proves Rohit Sharma is a quintessential reader of the game
After India’s loss to Australia in the first ODI of the ongoing India vs Australia series, Rohit Sharma quite candidly confessed at a press conference that if it was left to his opinion, he would prefer MS Dhoni to bat at number 4.
Dhoni was struggling to hit off the blocks from the word go and change his game as comfortably as he used to in his primes. Pundits had long called time on his international career and wanted India to look for better options. However, both Kohli and his deputy in the limited overs format, Rohit Sharma along with the team management at large backed him to the hilt. However it seems, it is Rohit Sharma who has read things better and identified how India can get the most out of Dhoni going into the world cup.
Debate on Dhoni's finishing abilities
Dhoni’s form, finishing abilities and his waning big-hitting prowess have been the topic of much discussion and debate over the past couple of years. With his prime years behind him, the experts suspected if he could find his groove back and be the player he was. Amidst all the scrutiny and debate, MSD also relinquished his captaincy and handed it over to Virat Kohli, who has held the mantle ever since with Rohit Sharma as his deputy.
However, it is no secret in cricketing circles that pundits are divided on the point of who should be the Indian captain, especially, after seeing Rohit Sharma go about things in the IPL and in the few opportunities he has got in the international arena.
Sharma solving the #4 conundrum
Rohit seems to know exactly how much pressure he should put on someone to get the best out of them. Earlier, Rohit had won praise from pundits when he used Hardik Pandya as the 5th bowler without anyone to backup in case he fails to deliver. The results saw Hardik Pandya consistently completing his quota of overs with respectable figures.
In the IPL he demoted himself in the batting order and sent the likes of Suryakumar Yadav and Ishan Kishan above him. A move which was inspired by the idea of taking pressure off them and letting them play with freedom. It paid rich dividends. Rohit Sharma also understands the need to give sustained opportunities to players to allow them to settle into the groove and prove their worth which is quite in contrast to VK’s approach of constant chopping and changing.
In the ongoing series, Rohit declared after the first game that if it was left to his opinion he would prefer that MS Dhoni bats at 4. Seeing the way Dhoni has been batting in recent times, it was evident that he needs that little bit of extra time to settle in before he could be back to his free-flowing self, keeping the scoreboard ticking with quick running between the wickets and exploding at the right time.
However, the Indian team management seems to have given it some serious thought post the first ODI. And with Ambati Rayudu looking a bit rusty, India brought in Kedhar Jadhav and promoted MSD up the order and it seems the move has worked wonders. As MSD arrived at the crease today, he started off right away running those quick singles, doubles and triples. He didn't necessitate a situation where Virat has to take that extra risk to allow Dhoni additional time to settle in. He had enough time ahead of him and waiting in the wings was Dinesh Karthik, India’s new found a reliable finisher. And in the company of Virat first and then Kedhar Jadhav, MSD polished off yet another ODI run chase.
The episode saw MSD incarnate as the classical number 4. He batted long, anchored the innings, and allowed the hitters to play around him. And it only goes on prove that Rohit Sharma is the quintessential reader of the game.