The Indian ODI team never had a problem at number three with skipper Virat Kohli coming to the crease and scoring runs freely.

With the Delhi man not featuring in the upcoming ODIs against Sri Lanka, his slot in the Indian batting order is up for grabs, and the likes of MS Dhoni, Manish Pandey and Ajinkya Rahane are serious contenders for the top-order position. 

Former India captain Dhoni's batting position might have been regularly discussed of late by cricket experts as he, most of the time, bats at five or six. Some experts feel the Jharkhand star needs to come up the batting order, and this Sri Lanka series could be the right time for Dhoni to do so and let his bat do the talking.

Even stats back Dhoni's elevation to the number three slot. Dhoni, who batted at number three early in his career, scored 996 runs from 16 matches with a highest score of 183. He might be a slow starter, but can build his innings and make up for it in the later stages of the game.

The 36-year-old has all the experience in the world to bat at number three and help India win matches.

This could be a perfect experiment for India coach Ravi Shastri, with India facing middle-order problems. If Dhoni bats at number three and finds success, the wicketkeeper-batsman can play at number four when Kohli comes back into the team. 

Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni
Will Dhoni bat at number three against Sri Lanka?INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP/Getty Images

However, it remains to be seen if the team management is willing to send Dhoni in at number three. It could expose him to the new ball at times, and Rahane could be a safer bet as he is a genuine opener. His ability to hit boundaries when field restrictions in place could tilt the scales in his favour.

The other contender — Manish Pandey — has batted for India in the middle order for the majority of his international career, and might relish an opportunity to bat in the top order. He has the technique and an all-round game to bat at any position.

The team management has to make the final call, and it will not come as any surprise if it tries all three — Dhoni, Pandey and Rahane — in the three ODI matches.