Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni acknowledged on Sunday that his finishing abilities are on the wane as India beat New Zealand by seven wickets in the third ODI riding on Virat Kohli’s sterling century.
Kohli’s unbeaten 154 drove India to their 286-run target in 48.2 overs as the hosts took a 2-1 lead in the five-match one-day series.
Kohli and Dhoni, who scored 80, were involved in a 151-run third-wicket partnership that set up the comprehensive win.
However Dhoni, who promoted himself to number four in the batting order, departed in the 36th over, leaving Kohli and Manish Pandey to get 94 more runs.
“I have batted lower down for a long time, I think 200 innings down the order. To some extent, I am losing my ability to freely rotate in the middle, so I have decided to bat up and let the others finish,” Dhoni said at the post-match presentation ceremony.
Once regarded as one of the best finishers in limited-overs cricket, Dhoni has recently found it difficult to bat at his usual number six position.
His laboured knock failed to take India over the line in their previous game in New Delhi, one of the few instances when the wicketkeeper-batsman has faltered while chasing.
Dhoni, who recorded his 61st ODI fifty and went past the 9000-run mark, hit three towering sixes during his 91-ball stay before falling to fast bowler Matt Henry.
“But I know I should still look for the big shots. Once you get 15-20 runs, you get into the groove. There were points in the middle where I had to pull myself from playing big shots,” said Dhoni.
Meanwhile Kohli, who recorded his 26th ODI ton, made the most of a reprieve after he was dropped on six by Ross Taylor at gully off Matt Henry to consolidate his position as India’s batting mainstay.
“Right from the start, he’s somebody who always wanted to improve and win games for India. He’s someone who has learnt a lot. He knows his strength well and executes his plan. If he can bat the way he’s batting, each and every individual will be happy. He’s not only made the fans proud, but also the family. That’s what you look to do,” said Dhoni.
Kohli said it was important for him and Dhoni to build a partnership to lay the foundation for the victory.
“It was great to have MS at four. We could build a partnership and we scored 150 and then Manish Pandey also held his own and gave me the confidence,” he said.
Manish Pandey made sure that he gave Kohli the perfect support to canter home in dew-laden conditions at the Mohali Stadium.
Pandey, who scored 28, and Kohli put on an unbeaten 97-run partnership to bring the home crowd to life.
The two teams now head to Ranchi for the fourth ODI on Wednesday.