The MS Dhoni conundrum is currently the biggest debate in Indian cricket at the moment. The man is invaluable for Virat Kohli, he is razor sharp behind the stumps and his tactics against the spinners are always gems, but it has been a constant struggle with the bat and it has carried on for well over a year now.
India were reduced to 4 for 3 in Sydney when Dhoni came out to bat. He joined Rohit Sharma in the middle and together the duo played out a lot of dot balls to soak up the pressure and prevent India from losing any further wickets.
However, the strike rate, which should have gone up as the innings progressed, but it stagnated and when he got out, the task for India became too steep.
Dhoni's innings put pressure on Rohit
His strike rate in the innings was 53.12, but if we deduct the fours and sixes, it shrinks down to 35.87. As a result of this, Rohit Sharma felt the pressure at the other end and despite playing a wonderful innings, his efforts were not able to lead India to a win.
Since January 1 2018, Dhoni's strike rate is the worst in the middle order. His average since January 1, 2018 reads 27.16 which is only better than Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja.
For batsmen who have played a minimum of 10 innings, Dhoni's strike rate is the fourth worst in this sample of 36 batsmen.
He still has the backing of his side, Rohit Sharma wants him to bat at number 4, but captain Virat Kohli is convinced Ambati Rayudu can get the job done at that position.
"Personally, I always feel him batting at No. 4 will be ideal for the team," Rohit told reporters after the end of the first ODI. "Rayudu has done really well now at No. 4, so it totally depends what the captain and coach think about it. Personally asking, yes, I would be happy if he (Dhoni) bats at No. 4," Rohit said in the post-match press conference.
This series and the one against New Zealand gives the veteran player multiple chances to stake his claim and mute the doubters, but with Rishabh Pant climbing up the ladder, another meek performance and the voices will definitely get louder.