India vs South Africa: Dhoni battling for a turnaround in Kanpur ODI

  • Sai Prasad Mohapatra, Hindustan Times, Kanpur
  • Updated: Oct 11, 2015 08:36 IST
Dhoni and Mohit Sharma during a practice session at Green Park in Kanpur. (Manoj Yadav/ HT Photo)

Known for using the depth of the crease, MS Dhoni played fairly late to ensure he got his shot execution right as he checked if every aspect of his batting was right. On Sunday, other than his own batting woes, Dhoni’s focus will also be on several other issues that have beset the team under him since November.

A Test series loss in Australia was followed by a poor show in the Tri-series. India did well in the World Cup till they ran into Australia in the semifinals. A reverse in Bangladesh in the ODI series, and now a fresh T20 series defeat handed by South Africa have left India under pressure to buck the trend as the five-match ODI series starts at the Green Park on Sunday.

Virat Kohli’s possible driest spell — he has not scored a fifty in the last 10 ODI innings — has played a big role in India’s recent performances. There is also a question mark over the bowler who will take charge in the death overs as Mohammad Shami recovers from knee surgery. Umesh Yadav, despite his pace, may not provide the answer due to his inconsistency. And the skipper knows finding solutions for specific areas can’t be done at the cost of a series win.

Late push

“It has to be a mix of both,” Dhoni said on Saturday. “Definitely, what we’re looking for is somebody who can bat down the order. And at the same time, death bowling is very crucial. Of course, the bowlers will get a bit of respite because of the new rules – they’ll have that one extra fielder outside.

“But you also want to win the series. So, we’ll always try to play the best eleven, depending on the condition. Looking at the venues and the timing of the games, we’ll be pushed to make a few changes as the series progresses, because the conditions will change quite drastically,” Dhoni said.

For starters, Dhoni has counted Ajinkya Rahane out as he feels he is suited only to bat in the top order. “To an extent, even No 4 is quite low for him. Opening fits him really well. Also, it’s slightly different for us. If you see first-class cricket, Rohit bats No 4, 3 or 5, but opens over here. Our openers, more often than not, bat in the middle-order in first-class cricket. It’s slightly difficult for Rahane as of now…. Given a chance, we’ll try to feature him in the top three, but if not, he’ll find it difficult to play.”

Playing three spinners would also depend on the conditions. If there is an early start or the pitch is dry, India can rely on their depth in that department.

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