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Dhoni is needed in the lower half

india Updated: Nov 12, 2010 02:08 IST
Ravi Shastri

So these Kiwis could fly. India barely got out of jail in Ahmedabad. The number eight Test ranked side nearly waylaid the leaders. Most questions were on batsmen. Bowlers struggled for two sessions against a quality batting pair on a placid pitch but the batsman put the hosts in danger of going 0-1 down in the series.

Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid and MS Dhoni are fierce competitors. India needs them to play characteristic stellar roles with the bat. Hopefully, Dravid's fluent second part of his first innings in Ahmedabad would arrest his batting slide in recent months. He earned his stripe at No. 3 as a batsman who was pivotal to India's plans.

Gambhir is another who would anchor an innings till the end. It wouldn't have been a bad idea though to have played him in a couple of Ranji games to get him ready for South Africa. He needs to spend some time out in the middle.

Dhoni is greatly needed in the lower half. Ishant Sharma and Harbhajan can't always be a guarantee for a Great Escape. There has to be an insurance against Laxman's off-days. Dhoni is the man to provide the cushion. But for this little blip, the admirable Indian skipper has always set very high standards. One just hopes he goes back to his natural aggressive style of play and must always remember that he is an impact player.