MS Dhoni India
India need MS Dhoni firing with the bat at this World CupReuters

The one thing that was firmly on the negative list after India's impressive win over Pakistan in their ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 opener was the finish with the bat.

Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan and Suresh Raina had put India in a seriously good position going into those crucial 5-10 overs, only for India to lose the plot in the last 30 balls of the innings.

It has been said enough – India scored just 27 runs in those final five overs sent in by Wahab Riaz and Sohail Khan, while losing five wickets. That meant the team clad in blue could only reach 300 in their 50 overs, when for the longest time, 320-330 looked inevitable.

While the final five overs hara-kiri did not come back to haunt them, with Pakistan faltering with the bat as the Indian bowlers came to the fore, against a more assured batting side, that might not have been the case.

Yes, it was the first match of the tournament, and yes, there will be plenty more opportunities for India to iron out those chinks before the quarterfinal station is reached.

But, with South Africa looming large -- in what is predicted to be the match which will most probably decide the Pool B winners – India cannot afford another final over meltdown.

This is not the first time India have lost their way in the final few overs after some brilliant work up top and in the middle, and that is why MS Dhoni is such a crucial player for the side.

If Dhoni is at his batting best, you can be rest assured India will score runs at a canter in the death over. If Dhoni is not feeling that white ball thud into the middle of his willow often enough – as is the case currently – then India become more susceptible to collapses down the order – Dhoni's scores in the last 4 competitive ODI innings are 19 in 31 balls, 34 in 61, 17 in 32 and 18 in 13 balls, the first three being games in the tri-series, and the final one against Pakistan last Sunday.

So, getting Dhoni back to form, batting the way he did in the previous World Cup – after, all who can forget that ridiculous knock in the 2011 final – is paramount, and nobody will know that better than Dhoni himself.

The problem lies in the fact that India's batting is not as deep as it usually is, and Australian conditions obviously give it a different tint as well. But that match against Pakistan was Dhoni's best opportunity to go slam-bang like only he can, and instead he scratched his way to 18, before duly getting himself out.

There was plenty of emphasis on big-hitting, and smashing the ball out of the park in the practice session for India on Wednesday, and what that suggests is that the side are working on their finishing over problems– you can only draw your own conclusions from what you see, as the entire team continue to stay away from the media in between the matches.

Dhoni played a big part in that aspect of the practice session, and the skipper did bang quite a few on the middle of his bat, with the ball flying far, far away plenty of times.

But can he do that when it comes to the 44th over against South Africa, with India looking to pile on another 60-odd runs, or chasing 50-odd for victory?

Sunday will give us that answer. Until then, practice, hopefully, makes perfect.

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