MS Dhoni reveals why he promoted himself to No.4 in third ODI against New Zealand
MS Dhoni revealed the reason behind his promotion to No.4 in the third ODI against New Zealand, which India won by seven wickets with 10 balls to spare, was the need to express himself and not because of the team’s needs. India’s limited-overs captain also heaped praise on Virat Kohli who scored another century to guide India home.
Having not scored a fifty in ODIs since the series against South Africa in October 2015 and looking scratchy in the second ODI which India lost, Dhoni made the bold call to promote himself to No.4 after India lost Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma cheaply. And it was a move that paid off as Dhoni scored 80 and put on 151 for the third-wicket with Virat Kohli to ensure India took a 2-1 lead in the five-match ODI series.
Speaking about the reason he decided to promote himself to No.4, MS Dhoni said: “Out of the 280 games I've played, I think for 200 of them I have batted down. That's where I'm losing my ability to rotate in the middle. So the decision was to go up and then express myself. It’s important for me at this stage.”
“One has to see that I am not playing Tests anymore. Lower down, I play according to what the situation demands. Batting at number four was an ideal position to express myself. It is more of my need than the team’s. There are other guys who can play at 4 too but we need to think about grooming batsmen to bat five, six and seven.
“With the top order being in brilliant form, the likes of Virat, Rohit (Sharma), Shikhar (Dhawan), I was not getting to bat for a lot of overs. I have not got enough chances to bat in the last one and a half years. Since there are few ODIs this season, I only get to play one-dayers in domestic cricket,” he said.
The limited-overs captain also admitted that batting with Virat Kohli helps him. “That’s what my thinking was – to go out and express myself. I was playing the big shots. There were points in the middle where I had to pull myself out of the instinct to simply rotate. Batting with Virat helps; the reason being that both of us can hit boundaries and push for those singles and doubles,” he added.
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The wicketkeeper’s decision to promote himself proved to be the perfect tonic as he not only scored runs but also broke the Indian record of most sixes in ODIs, which was previously-held by Sachin Tendulkar.
“I am happy to score runs. I wanted to do this (play an innings like that) for a long time. I could express myself today. It doesn’t happen at number 5 or 6. Batting lower is hampering my batting to a certain extent,” he said at the post-match press conference.
He admitted that it was something that was discussed with the team management. “We (in the team management) discussed this. I wasn’t fluently rotating the strike (batting at five or six). When you batting down, the approach is more result-oriented and you are looking for the big strokes. I feel that has hampered my batting to a certain extent. It is good that I got runs.
“At the same time, it (his batting at four) gives a chance to other youngsters to bat lower down the order. Batting higher, I can set the pace of the innings and not worry about hitting the big shots (from the start),” he explained.