Former Indian captain and chief selector Krishnamachari Srikkanth backed Mahendra Singh Dhoni to take up the much-debated No 4 batting position for India at the upcoming 50-over World Cup.
The former chief selector said the veteran keeper-batsman would be perfect for the position giving his blistering form in the ongoing Indian Premier League. The Chennai Super Kings captain has made 358 runs in 11 matches so far, taking his team into the playoffs again.
“For long, the No 4 position has been much debated and frankly, I think too much has been made about that. In my opinion, India has a ready-made No. 4 in MS Dhoni. I don’t think there is anyone better suited for that slot than the former skipper himself and why he has not been allowed to bat there consistently remains a mystery,” Srikkanth wrote in his column for The Times of India.
“Given the manner in which Dhoni played in Australia and in the ongoing IPL, there is no doubt that he has some quality left in the tank. Of course, the attacks that Dhoni will come up against in the World Cup will pose sterner tests, but that does not mean he can’t carry the team around,” he added.
When India’s 15-man squad for the World Cup was announced, chief selector MSK Prasad had said all-rounder Vijay Shankar as best suited for the position, ahead of Ambati Rayudu who was dropped. In the past, the Men in Blue tried and tested the likes of KL Rahul, Ajinkya Rahane, Shreyas Iyer and Manish Pandey at two down but no one has stuck around for long. In the World Cup squad, Shankar, Rahul and Dinesh Karthik are seen as possible No 4 options.
In 2018, Dhoni came under heavy criticism for his poor performances with the bat where he mustered only 275 runs in 20 ODIs, failing to register a single fifty. But he turned that around earlier this the year, emerging as the player of the series in the ODI series in Australia. The 37-year-old has carried on the same form to the IPL.
Srikkanth went on to add that Dhoni’s vision and the ability to pace his innings smartly make him the perfect candidate.
“It goes without saying that Dhoni’s lack of instant firepower was held against him, but in 50-over cricket, one has enough time to pace his innings. No one bats with a better vision in ODI cricket than Dhoni.
“Once he has his engines cranked, Dhoni is one of the toughest batsmen to bowl to. Mixing caution with aggression is his biggest strength, especially when his team is chasing. Agreed his strike rate might have come down a touch, but that is only in keeping with the situation in hand,” he wrote.
The World Cup begins in England from 30 May with India starting their campaign against South Africa on 5 June.