Indian opener Rohit Sharma, who notched his 22nd century in the first ODI against Australia on Saturday, said that MS Dhoni’s ideal position in the batting order is at number four. However, the right-handed batsman added that this was his personal opinion and the skipper and the coach will have the final word on the batting slots. Dhoni came in at number four after a poor start by the India top-order. Along with Sharma, Dhoni forged a 137-run stand for the fourth wicket but it wasn’t enough to get India over the line.
Speaking at a post-match press conference after the first ODI, Sharma said, “Personally, I always feel that Dhoni batting at number four will be ideal for the team but we have got Ambati Rayudu who has done really well now at number four. It totally depends on what the captain and coach think about it. Personally asking, I would be happy if Dhoni bats at four.”
“If you look at his (Dhoni’s) overall batting, his strike rate is around 90. Today was a different scenario, when he came out to bat we had already lost three wickets and Australia were bowling pretty well. You just cannot go out and get 100-run partnership easily. So we took a little bit of time and even I did not score as quickly as I normally do,” he added.
He further explained that the match was at a crucial point and losing another wicket would have turned the match dead. “I took my time too because we wanted to get that partnership and losing another wicket at that point, the game would have been dead there and then. So, we had to play dot balls and build a partnership,” Rohit said.
Rohit, who had earlier described Dhoni as the ‘guiding light of the group’, said that the wicketkeeper-batsman was ready to bat anywhere for the team. “It is pretty simple with him and he does not complicate things. We spoke about building a partnership because it was crucial at that point. It was great to see him come and bat at number five. We lost three wickets but he is keen to get those runs as well. Over the years, he has shown he is ready to bat anywhere for the team and score runs,” he said.
Speaking on India mistake in the run chase, the right-handed batsman said, “We knew we can put some of the bowlers under pressure. Unfortunately, we kept losing wickets at the wrong time; the first three wickets and then when we were going strong with that partnership, unfortunately MS got out and then we knew it was going to be hard. These things happen, these are the games that will teach you a lot as a batsman, to combat these kind of games when you lose wickets. But we have said enough about learning now. It is time to go and execute, take the pressure and absorb it.”
Talking about other batsmen batting down the order, he said, “We believe in Jadeja to play those cameo innings when required but the asking rate was way too much when he came to bat and for any batsman to just start playing shots is not that easy. Surprisingly, the ball was reversing quite a bit so to adjust to that is not really easy for the new batter. I don’t think it is a worry, but it is an eye-opener. Sometimes there will be times where no. 6, 7, 8 need to score those crucial runs. Bhuvneshwar Kumar did that well and had no support.”
Speaking on his 22nd ODI ton, Rohit said, “I just wanted to make sure we get those runs and the team gets into a good position. Unfortunately all the four hundreds I have scored in Australia, we have lost all the games. That is one thing I want to change. If I get a hundred I want to make sure that we win the game as well.”
Sharma also spoke on Dhoni’s dismissal and Ambati Rayudu’s unsuccessful review call and said, “Taking DRS can be tricky. We don’t even have 15 seconds to talk to the batter, only 5-7 seconds by the time they walk over. Rayudu said he thought the ball was drifting down leg side and I thought the same. We don’t think about these decisions once they have happened, and you cannot always be right. It is important to use DRS well. Maybe once we reach Adelaide, we will talk about it. It is a learning for us, but what’s done is done.”
The second ODI will be played in Adelaide on Tuesday. Australia will go into the second match with a 1-0 lead.