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Should Dhoni bat higher up the order?

Source: PTI
April 20, 2024 16:59 IST
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IMAGE: Mahendra Singh Dhoni has been in superb hitting form in IPL 2024, hitting 87 runs at a strike rate of 255. Photograph: BCCI

The fans are clamouring for Mahendra Singh Dhoni to move up the batting order. In an ideal world, the team management would also like it that way, and Brian Lara too feels the talisman should be asked, 'Would you like to bat higher?'

But the West Indies great knows that the 42-year-old, whose ability to bat for extended periods has been restricted by a chronic knee problem, won't consider a promotion in the batting order.


Besides the knee issue, Dhoni is also at a stage where he is looking to give the youngsters a chance to prove their mettle.

"It's just brilliant. The question has to be asked 'would you like to bat higher?' Because I can see he is making valuable contributions. But there are a couple of losing causes as well. So, I think that should be a consideration," Lara told Star Sports.

The Chennai Super Kings legend gave his team the much-needed impetus with a nine-ball 28 against Lucknow Super Giants on Friday, one of the few entertaining cameos he has played this IPL season. CSK, though, lost the game by eight wickets after being stopped at 176/6.

Lara added, "At 42, he's most likely thinking from the teams point of view, that the young guys got to do the job. But I think the middle of the innings told a little bit too much about CSK batting. And it created the fact that even though he exploded at the end and he did that Dhoni thing at the end and it still was not enough.

"So, I think they will have to go back to the drawing room. And realise that they need to be a little bit more aggressive throughout the innings. Because at the back end, you have got the man to come.

"And if he gets two three overs, as he did against Mumbai Indians. And propelled them above 200. They need to think about that all the time."

Against LSG, Dhoni slammed a four and a six off Mohsin Khan before smashing Yash Thakur for another maximum. He finished the innings with two more fours as 19 came off the last over.

Lara shared his thoughts on moments when Dhoni comes out to bat and the loud cheers it generates across venues.

"That's the terrific part of the game. I have said it over and over again, when you have a guy aged 42, a legend, an icon in the game, someone who has played in the IPL for so many years and you don't know when he's going to say, hey, that's it.

"He comes out to bat and I think it's just a moment to savour and everyone is just going to feel amazing about this. It's going to be a lot of emotions, but then he walks out and does the business," Lara said.

"He may not have to look and say, 'listen, I may have to go up the order because I may need a little bit more runs'. He has batted five, six times now and remained unbeaten. So, any team strategising would say, 'well, obviously you have to go up'. But I don't think he will."

CSK head coach Stephen Fleming had earlier claimed that the team isn't surprised by what the former skipper has done with the bat this season, saying his skill level during pre-season was very high.

When the discussion turned to Dhoni's fitness and running between the wickets, Lara said, "He's still doing it today and let's make sure that he's on the park for all the matches in this IPL for CSK.

"But yeah, running between the wickets where he is aware of the situation and aware of that the match-up for him is just the correct match-up.

"And it just looked like when you look at the counter, there's two umpires, 11 fielders, and a bowler, and then there's these fans, and they all just look like spectators when he's striking the ball.

"Fielders diving to his left, he can't get it, fielders looking his head, he can't get it.  It's just his show. He's just scripted it so well."

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