India tour of South Africa 2018: 4 areas of concern despite a successful ODI series victory
On paper, a 5-1 ODI series victory in South Africa is tremendous. However, victories often mask flaws that will be explored in this piece.
Before we continue however, it is important to stress the context in this piece - this is not to ridicule the magnitude of the achievement. To win a bilateral ODI series in South Africa in such dominating fashion is historic and deserves all the accolades it brings with it.
However, with the 2019 World Cup a year away, it is important to not let victories conceal some issues that need addressing before it gets too late.
#1 The Finisher
MS Dhoni is no longer the finisher he once was , and all who still believe otherwise are living in 2010.
Harsh, but it's true. Anyone who has been watching all ODI matches for a year or two can be testament to the fact that Dhoni's over-cautious approach and struggles at the start of his innings have often suctioned the momentum from an innings.
In fact, for the past 3 years his strike rate has hovered around 80. (80 in 2016, 84 in 2017, 81 in 2018) While this would've been acceptable in 2005, in modern times with teams like England playing a ruthless brand of ODI cricket this will not work.
In contrast, these are the strike rates of finishers in other top ODI teams:
David Miller with 137 in 2016, 99 in 2017, 81 in 2018
Glenn Maxwell with 121 in 2016, 113 in 2017, 87 in 2018
Marcus Stoinis with 100 in 2017, 111 in 2018
Jos Buttler with 129 in 2016, 102 in 2017, 109 in 2018
Anyway, you don't want to have someone who is aged 35, away from cricket for months and needs time to settle, to walk into the 45th over and expect him to hit sixes from the word go, do you? Yet for his abundant talent, experience and judgement Dhoni does still belong in the playing XI. The next slide shall explore the ideal position for MS Dhoni, however to wrap this conundrum up with a solution, I believe the finisher's mantle could be handed to Hardik Pandya, Kedar Jadhav or even Rishabh Pant.
They would need time to adjust to the role however, and build the necessary set of skills in order to match the likes of Jos Buttler and David Miller.