Pune look to the finisher in Dhoni to step forward ahead of Gujarat tie | ipl$rps | Hindustan Times
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Pune look to the finisher in Dhoni to step forward ahead of Gujarat tie

While Dhoni has so far straight-batted questions thrown at him, voices are growing about his ability to do it day-in, day-out.

ipl Updated: Apr 29, 2016 14:40 IST
Rajesh Pansare
Rising Pune Supergiants captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni plays a shot during the 2016 Indian Premier League.
Rising Pune Supergiants captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni plays a shot during the 2016 Indian Premier League.(AFP Photo)

The adage – when MS Dhoni hits, it stays hit – is struggling to stand the test of time with the India skipper’s failure to pull off the big shots that have been synonymous with his batting.

While Dhoni has so far straight-batted questions thrown at him, voices are growing about his ability to do it day-in, day-out.

It’s time he finds his touch with the Rising Pune Supergiants struggling towards the end of their innings, failing to reach par scores for their bowlers to defend, or overhauling totals in tight chases.

If his performance over the past few months is analysed, the picture isn’t rosy. The bottom hand is no longer generating the kind of power it used to be, and the ability to convert singles into twos too has come under the scanner.

There have been instances when it was felt he isn’t the Dhoni of the past. A recent one was when Pune were chasing 185 set by Royal Challengers Bangalore in the first home match at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium last week.

While Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers set the tone for RCB, Dhoni managed a 38-ball 41, well below his career strike-rate as Pune fell short by 13 runs.

He batted at No 5 and in the next match against Kolkata Knight Riders he dropped to No 6. Dhoni did manage a 12-ball 23 but was left with a few deliveries to push the team to a par score.

Is there a need to elevate him to No 4? Coach Stephen Fleming doesn’t think so. “There are different roles for MS Dhoni. The most effective is closing an innings. The other thing is the team doesn’t sit around Dhoni, there are other people down the order who have hitting abilities as well.”

With Kevin Pietersen out and Faf du Plessis fracturing his finger, during the win over Sunrisers Hyderabad in the last match, and returning to South Africa, the pressure will be on Dhoni.

It will suit the team’s needs if he goes up the order at No 4 to give himself time to get the eye in before opening up his shoulders. After all, a Dhoni in full flow is the one of the most destructive batsmen around, one we have missed for a while.

“Yeah, he is the most destructive batsmen in the world. We are also mindful of the fact that we don’t waste balls as one of the best power-hitters in the game is sitting there (in the dugout) and get wasted,” added Fleming.