Debasis Sen, Dubai: If there is one individual looking more determined than others in the Rohit Sharma led Indian team for the ensuing Asia Cup, it has to be Mahendra Singh Dhoni. The two times World Cup winning captain will look to get back his midas touch with the bat in the tournament. The men in blue will start their campaign against minnows Hong Kong at the Dubai International Stadium on Tuesday.
Dhoni will be key for India’s chances in the tournament, not only for his experience but also for his batting, which has drawn some flak off late.With Virat Kohli taking a rest, India’s batting will heavily depend on the senior pros like Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and MS Dhoni. Much like KL Rahul, Manish Pandey and Kedar Jadhav, Dhoni will have a lot to prove to people, who have raised questions about his strike rate and finishing abilities during the limited-overs series in England.
Dhoni’s slow batting led to boos from the stands in the recently concluded ODI series against England. It is a bit baffling because the World Cup-winning captain was coming off a brilliant Indian Premier League, where he led the returning Chennai Super Kings to their third IPL crown.
Dhoni amassed 455 runs from 18 matches at an average of 40.16 and a strike-rate of 138.19. But the same person was found woefully out of form in England.
The former India captain may resort to playing with lighter bats (as noticed during the practice sessions at the ICC academy) in the ensuing Asia Cup tournament. Remember he scored runs using the same bats in the IPL last season.
According to former cricketer turned commentator Deep Dagupta, “The lighter bats helps in maneuvering the pace.”
According to a member of the team, who does not wants to be quoted, “The curve and the round toe he prefers is back. For shorter formats, he prefers more curve. He uses different bats for international games. But it seems he may use the lighter ones for this tournament.”
The former India captain spent some quality time at the nets in Jharkhand before arriving here. He faced balls coming in at 150+ hours, trying to prepare himself well against the Pakistani fast bowlers.
Meanwhile the remaining members of the Indian team joined the others at the training session during the afternoon at the ICC cricket academy. Shikhar Dhawan was the first to go in to bat at the nets along with KL Rahul. It looks like the Karnataka batsman will come in at No. 3. There will be a stiff competition for the No.4 slot in the middle order with both Manish Pandey and Kedar Jadhav waiting for an opportunity. Dhoni, as hinted by Rohit in his pre match press conference will go in at No. 5 followed by Hardik Pandya at No.7. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who is coming back after an injury will go in at No. 8 . Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzuvendra Chahal will be the two spinners with newcomer Khaleel Ahmed making his debut.