India vs New Zealand: Resurgent MS Dhoni looks for series-winning homecoming
Rediscovering himself in the twilight of his career, a rejuvenated MS Dhoni would look to continue his renewed form and guide India to a series-victory.
Ranchi: Rediscovering himself in the twilight of his career, a rejuvenated Mahendra Singh Dhoni would look to continue his regained form and guide India to a series-clinching win when the team takes on New Zealand in the fourth cricket ODI on Wednesday.
A batsman, wicketkeeper, and a cool-headed skipper, all rolled into one, Dhoni promoted himself to No 4 in the last ODI in Mohali and set up the seven-wicket win in the company of Virat Kohli to give the hosts a 2-1 lead in the five-match series.
Dhoni's 91-ball 80 in Mohali also took him to the club of 9,000 runs. He became the first to reach there with an average of 50 or more.
The limited-overs captain and Ranchi's favourite son may be seen in his last appearance at the Jharkhand State Cricket Association Stadium Complex here which has hosted three ODIs and one T20I, with India winning all of them except for a rain-marred one-dayer.
Dhoni's deputy, Kohli, will also look forward to return to the venue where he has scores of 77 not out and 139 not out in his two unconquered ODI innings here.
Regarded among the best batsmen of modern era, Kohli once again showed how dangerous he can be after being dropped early in his innings in Mohali. He came on his own after the reprieve on six and scripted a flawless 154 not out off 134 balls to take India past New Zealand's 285 in the third ODI.
It was Kohli's 26th century -- 22 in winning cause, same as Sachin Tendulkar -- and 14 in successful chases.
And come tomorrow, stopping the 27-year-old Delhi batsman would be a first in New Zealand's wish-list.
In their decisive 151-run third wicket partnership, Dhoni showed a renewed optimism and hunger while Kohli was at his clinical best.
To say that Dhoni has past his prime would be too early but the 35-year-old has himself acknowledged his diminishing prowess in Mohali, something that prompted him to elevate himself to No 4 in the batting line-up.
"To some extent I am losing my ability to freely rotate in the middle. If it keeps on happening for a long time, tendency is you don't fluently rotate strike and that was what was happening with my batting," he had said.
Back home where it all began for Dhoni, it will be an emotional match for the Indian skipper, who has won every ICC trophy and he would look to make the outing a memorable one.
Dhoni's return to form would be a dangerous signal for the Kiwis, who are desperate to prove a point after their 0-3 whitewash in the Test series.
Despite opting to rest their three premier bowlers in the Tests -- Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammad Shami and Ravindra Jadeja keeping in view the gruelling home season ahead -- India have done reasonably well in the bowling department.
The biggest surprise has been part-time off-spinner Kedar Jadhav, who has taken six wickets at less than eight runs an over, and is joint second in the wicket-takers' list behind leg-spinner Amit Mishra.
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The 34-year-old Ashwin last played white-ball cricket for India in 2017 before being sidelined from one-day cricket following the Champions Trophy.
Just hours before the start of the first ODI at Rawalpindi on Friday, New Zealand called off the Pakistan tour which was to comprise three ODIs and five T20Is, citing security concerns.