MS Dhoni can hit better if he moves up the order: Suresh Raina

MS Dhoni can hit better if he moves up the order: Suresh Raina

MS Dhoni has drawn some flak over his dwindling hitting prowess – several experts even suggested it was time to look beyond Dhoni in T20 Internationals – but the Indian team management has been firm in its support of the former captain.
Virat Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri have thrown their weight behind Dhoni – when Dhoni had stepped down as captain of India’s limited-overs teams last year, Kohli had said MSD would always remain his captain.Kohli, when taking over as India’s ODI and T20I captain, had also said he would like to see Dhoni bat up the order and enjoy his batting after shouldering the burdern of tricky chases for a decade. However, that has not been the case and Dhoni has continued to bat down the order, mostly at No.6. Some failures with the bat, especially his inability to accelerate at crucial junctures, have also drawn fierce criticism.However, Suresh Raina, who is returning to the team after a year, said Dhoni should ideally bat up the order to hit out better.“I feel MS Dhoni can do better up the order. He can hit better and get more time. He is the kind of player who if he plays up the order will always keep the team in a strong position,” Raina told Sports Tak in an exclusive interview.Raina, a veteran of 223 ODIs, played 153 ODIs under Dhoni’s captaincy and enjoyed a great run. As one of India’s most reliable middle-order options, he scored 4362 of his career total of 5568 in that phase. All his five ODI hundreds have also come under Dhoni.Raina, who has been selected to play the three-match T20I series against South Africa starting February 18, is being looked at as the answer to India’s middle-order problems.Over the last 12 months, India have dominated the ODI format but have struggled to find permanent solutions to the middle-order which looks fragile if the top-three (Rohit, Dhawan and Kohli) fail to deliver.Raina has the experience of batting in the middle-order and he is looking at the upcoming T20 matches as an opportunity to consolidate his position.He has a healthy average batting at Nos. 4-6, having scored 4783 runs.“The T20I series will be important, then there’s the series in Bangladesh and the IPL. But the experience of 50-overs cricket is very important. It makes a lot of difference – when you play at that position (nos 4 and 5 in the middle order), you won’t get any sleep.