Why Dhoni should be tried at #4 or #5, ahead of 2019 World Cup
Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the former captain of Indian cricket team, has been struggling to score huge runs for a long time now. There was a time when Dhoni was known for his power-hitting, especially his 'Helicopter shot, which made him one of the most feared batsmen.
In the early days of his career, MSD was playing at #3 and his career-best of 183 also came at this position. After getting the responsibility of the captain, Dhoni pushed himself down the batting order and since then he has usually played at either #6 or #7.
However, in the 2018 Indian Premier League, Dhoni promoted himself to #4 and #5 and at that position, he scored at an impressive average of 61.50 in the league -- which indicates that Dhoni is still better off to play at #4 or #5.
Earlier, when Dhoni pushed himself to no. 6 and 7, there was a reason to do it and that was to take the responsibility of finishing the game off and to take all the pressure during hard times when the top-order and upper middle-order fails.
Now that Dhoni is just a wicket-keeper batsman, add to it his age, it is time to determine the right position for him, where he is more comfortable and valuable for the team.
Upper middle-order position:
If we talk about his performance at #4 and #5 in the ODIs - he has played 100 innings in which he has scored 4067 runs which is 40% of his career aggregate. His average at #4 and #5 is 52.14 which is better than his career average.
If we add his performance at #3 the average boosts to 56.22. Now if we take the #3, #4 and #5 positions, they contribute 50% of his career runs in just 41% innings of his career. This shows how good Dhoni can be if he comes early in the batting lineup.
Here is his performance at upper positions:
Lower middle-order position:
As mentioned above, Dhoni shifted his position to #6 and #7 during his captaincy to support the team under pressure and that affected his power hitting, as at lower middle-order Dhoni has a lower strike rate of 85.28 in comparison to 90.23 at upper positions.
He played most of his innings at #6 - while batting at #6 Dhoni has made 4024 runs in 125 innings at an average of 46.79. At #7 former Indian captain has played 32 innings and added 890 runs.
Mahi has scored at an average of 46.80 while batting in lower middle-order which is much lower than the average of 56.22 in upper positions. The two best examples of Mahi batting at an upper order position are his knocks of 183* and 91* against Pakistan and Sri Lanka respectively.
The latter came in the final of 2011 World Cup where Dhoni promoted himself ahead of Yuvraj and lead India to become the World Champions for the second time. Before Dhoni's arrival, India were struggling as their top-order were back in the pavilion and only Gambhir was giving a fight to Sri Lankan attack.
So it will be better for Dhoni as well as for India if he comes to bat early, as we know the World Cup is near it will be the best to try Dhoni at #4 or #5 in the series against Australia and New Zealand.