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MS Dhoni set to play next year's Vijay Hazare Trophy for Jharkhand

Indian limited-overs skipper eager to maximize game time ahead of 2017 Champions Trophy

MS Dhoni
Dhoni wants to head into next year’s Champions Trophy well prepared

In order to enter into next year’s Champions Trophy on the back of sufficient match practice, India’s limited-overs skipper MS Dhoni will turn out for Jharkhand in the 2017 edition of the Vijay Hazare Trophy. The 35-year old is currently in the midst of the 5-match ODI series against New Zealand and opened up on his future plans following the third ODI at Mohali.

Dhoni revealed, “To see the number of games available for me – this is a five-match series (against New Zealand), followed by 3 against England and 2 T20Is or 3 (3 T20Is). So that is not a lot of limited overs cricket. I will go and play the Ranji Trophy one-dayers (Vijay Hazare Trophy for Jharkhand). Overall, there is not a lot of cricket and I have to make the most of it. The more deliveries I play the better it is for me.”

Interestingly, the wicket-keeper batsman promoted himself up the order and came in at the fall of the second wicket during the third ODI at the PCA Stadium. Shrugging off his indifferent form over the past season, Dhoni joined hands with Test captain Virat Kohli to propel India towards a comfortable seven-wicket victory. The veteran scored 80 runs off 91 deliveries including six boundaries and three sixes to complement his noteworthy performance with the gloves earlier in the game.

He explained the promotion by noting, “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. I wasn’t fluently rotating the strike (at five or six). When you are 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 (in this match).”

Amidst growing concerns regarding his waning reflexes and advancing age, the right-hander has expressed his eagerness to play a different role in the batting lineup with one eye on the Champions Trophy. However, he does not have too many matches to further the theory with only two ODIs remaining in the New Zealand series and three more against England next year aside from three T20Is as well.

In that regard, the Vijay Hazare Trophy should serve as a perfect platform for Dhoni to get acclimatized to batting up the order by representing Jharkhand. His presence will also help the state team improve upon their performance in the 2016 edition wherein they were knocked out in the quarter-finals.

The tournament begins on February 25 and runs until March 18. Dhoni’s international assignments for the 2016-17 season will be over on February 1. With the home season culminating in the 4-Test series against Australia, the experienced campaigner should be available for the entire duration of the domestic event. The 2017 Champions Trophy will take place between 1st and 18th June in England & Wales.

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