'I don't see myself batting up the order' - MS Dhoni
India's limited-overs captain MS Dhoni has all but ruled himself out of batting up the order in the upcoming Asia Cup T20 and World Twenty20, starting March 8. Ahead of the team's departure to Bangladesh, Dhoni backed a stable, in-form, top order, and said that he would consider promoting a big-hitter instead of himself if there was a big partnership at the top.
"It is very difficult. In a normal scenario, I don't see myself batting up the order because of the batting line we have got," Dhoni said. This is a departure from Dhoni's recent preference of batting at No.4, though in a different format. Dhoni had batted at No.4 in the second ODI against Bangladesh last year in Mirpur, for the first time since July 2012. Dhoni showed glimpses of his best form during the course of his 47, and later said: "I would like to bat slightly up in the order so I can play a bit more freely."
Since that match, Dhoni has batted four times at No.4 in ODIs, scoring 134 runs.
Dhoni, however, explained that the T20 batting line-up was settled, with Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma opening; Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina and Yuvraj Singh form the middle order. Dhawan got bright starts against Australia in the T20s in Melbourne and Sydney and then set up India's win against Sri Lanka in the second T20 in Ranchi with a rapid fifty, his first in T20 internationals. Rohit, on his part, hit back-to-back fifties in Melbourne and Sydney, before making 43 in Ranchi. Kohli stroked three successive fifties in Australia, tallying 199 runs in the three-match T20 series, before being rested for the Sri Lanka T20s. From the middle order, Raina and Yuvraj helped India seal a clean sweep against Australia in Sydney with an unbroken 53-run partnership in a tight finish.
"Virat, he is at 3, Raina at 4, Yuvraj Singh at 5, I am 6, Jadeja, Hardik. We may try [a promotion] if there is good partnership; we may try one of the hitters to go up and express maybe from the very first ball," Dhoni said. "But whether I see myself getting that promotion, I think it will be slightly difficult."
Dhoni also dismissed concerns about the No.6 and No.7 batting positions, feeling that they would not have much to do, especially if the top order clicked.
"As of now it [No.6 and No.7] doesn't seem like [a problem]. Usually six and seven won't or should not get an opportunity. If the team is doing well, I don't think No.6 and No.7 will or should get more than 10 balls or 12 balls and you will have to make the most," he said.
Dhoni said he was keen to "give everybody a game"' ahead of the World T20. India named the same team for all three matches in the recent home series against Sri Lanka. It meant Pawan Negi, a left-field selection for the Asia Cup and the World T20, has not played an international game yet.
"I will try to give everybody a game because it is something as important as playing with a settled team," Dhoni said. "It is important for everybody to have games under their belt. Against few of the sides we will really be able to give games to few of the other players who are part of the team but have not got a chance to play so far but still we will look to win games and that's our top priority but the conditions will allow us to give a few games to others who have not played."