Mahendra Singh Dhoni seems to have finally found out his best batting position in ODIs. After promoting himself to No 4 and decimating New Zealand with a swashbuckling 80 off 91 balls at Mohali on Sunday, Dhoni said that he needed more match practice to settle down in that position.
"The more deliveries I play, the better for me," the Indian limited overs captain said, according to a report in DNA. With only five ODIs remaining before the Champions Trophy in England next year, Dhoni has expressed his desire to play the Vijay Hazare Trophy for Jharkhand in order to stay match-fit and get accustomed at the crucial No 4 position.
Dhoni, who had scored his first ODI century at No 3, back in 2005, slowly moulded himself into a finisher, especially after taking over as captain. It meant he would be batting down the order, which denied him the opportunity to get a control of the proceedings early on. However, there were strident calls for Dhoni to bat higher, as there was a feeling that one of the best batsmen of the team was being wasted at No 5 or No 6.
Dhoni, now seems to have decided to "go up and then express myself". It was important for him at this stage of his career, Dhoni said, adding that others in the team would have to take up the mantle of finishers, reported India Today.
Dhoni added 151 runs for the third wicket with Virat Kohli, who hammered an unbeaten 154 off just 134 deliveries, which helped India trounce the Kiwis at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium.
The Indian limited overs captain has batted at Nos 5 or 6 for the most part of his career, but of the 24 matches that Dhoni has batted at No 4, India has won 17 of them. Dhoni has a sparkling average of 62 at No 4, which is further evidence of his suitability at that position.
Significantly, batting at No 4 also gives Dhoni a chance to bat with the team's best batsman, Virat Kohli. Dhoni acknowledged it after the Mohali victory, and said that the batting slot was more for his need than that of the team. But while batting higher gives Dhoni a chance to spend more time in the middle, the team stands to gain the most by the move, as it affords a greater chance for the two frontline batsmen of the team coming together and stamping their authority on the match.
With Dhoni now looking to go through the rigours of the domestic circuit after the limited overs matches against England get over, the interest around the Vijay Hazare Trophy is certain to increase manifolds. Dhoni's team Jharkhand are slated to play from 25 February to 6 March in Kolkata. This will be followed by the knockouts and the final on 18 March.