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Dhoni wants partnerships in middle order

Captain explains Virat’s switch to No. 4 as a ploy to solidify middle-order

By Shirin Sadikot in
Throughout the ODI tri-series, MS Dhoni has rued about his batting line-up’s inability to string together long partnerships, which has left them without a win so far. Ahead of the match against England, which is, in effect, a semi-final, Dhoni once again stressed on that aspect of his team’s performance and hoped they would fix it before the World Cup commences.

“It is important to put runs on the board and defend them, and we haven’t been able to do that,” Dhoni said ahead of the Perth ODI.

“We have had partnerships going but we haven’t been able to capitalize on them. Wickets in hand going into the death overs is something we like to have and it’s a part of our strategy. We’d like to do that going further.”

While the Indian captain acknowledged that the top-order hasn’t contributed with many runs, he also put onus on the middle-order to get the team back on track in case of a jittery start.

“The openers are not a big concern,” he said. “More than the top order, in middle order we have lost quick wickets and that hampers the team’s plans. You don’t want wickets to fall in pairs if openers don’t fire. We’ll have to see to that.”

A few questions have been raised about India’s batting order where Virat Kohli has been coming one step below his regular No. 3 spot, relinquishing it to Ambati Rayudu. Dhoni once again explaining the ploy, said that with the inexperienced Axar Patel coming in at No. 8, the team needs more solidity in the middle-order in form of Virat.

“If I am batting at 6 and I am worried before going for a big shot whether the following batsman will be able to capitlise in the last eight overs, it is not a good place to be in,” Dhoni explained. “If Virat gets a partnership going, I am there, Raina is there and we can maneuver the strike and capitalize.

“It is also important to look at the XI you’re playing and decide which batsman batting where will benefit the team most. So a batsman who loves to bat at a certain position will have to sacrifice,” the captain said. “By the start of World Cup we’ll have a better picture of who bats where.”

Dhoni also said that it is important to remain flexible with your batting order depending on the situation of the game. He said that in ODIs it’s not the batting position but the number of overs a batsman has at his disposal that is more crucial.

“More than the batting number, the number of overs is important. If the openers play till the 38th over, you’d like your No. 7 batsman to walk in rather than the No. 3,” he explained.