MS Dhoni, on Saturday, scored his first ODI fifty in over a year. The former India skipper scored 51 while sharing a crucial 137-run stand with Rohit Sharma during the first ODI against Australia in Sydney. Dhoni had come to the crease when India were reeling at 4 for 3 while chasing 288. Unsurprisingly, Dhoni as well as Rohit took their time early on as another wicket at that juncture would have pretty much ended India’s slim hopes.
But as the game progressed, Rohit started playing his shots. However, Dhoni continued to struggle from the other end due to which the required run-rate kept on mounting. Dhoni was eventually out after scoring a fighting 51. But the 37-year old had consumed as many as 96 deliveries for the same. The latest knock has only extended Dhoni’s woes of scoring at a fast pace. The World Cup-winning skipper, who is regarded as India’s best finisher, comes at number five – a spot where the batsmen rarely get a chance to settle down.
However, Dhoni has developed a knack of playing too many dot deliveries which has made things tough for the other batsmen. Coming to the game, Rohit went on to score a fighting ton. However, his 133-run knock went in vain due to the lack of support from the other end. India were eventually restricted to 254 for 9, thus losing the game by 34 runs.
And former India allrounder Ajit Agarkar feels Dhoni’s slow knock mounted the pressure on Rohit.
“Yes, tough situation to come in when you are three down with four runs on the board. And you could argue that the first 25-30 balls, you’ve not been here. But once you are set. I mean Rohit can get 288 all by himself. There has to be a support from the other end. And not from someone who is striking at 50 when he finishes after 100 balls. And, 100 balls are a lot of deliveries in one-day cricket,” said Agarkar in conversation with ESPNCricinfo.
“You can argue for the first few deliveries because the pressure is on and you don’t want to throw your wicket. But eventually, you need to do what the team requires you to do. And if you are not doing it then you got to worry about whether the person is good enough to do it or not. Yes, he got a fifty but even then it was fifty off like 100 balls. That wasn’t helping Rohit at the other end. Dhoni fans might argue that he got a rough one otherwise he could have carried on. But it did not look like in that stage. It seemed that Rohit was doing the bulk of the work,” he added.
India, meanwhile, will be looking to bounce back and keep the series alive when they take on a resurgent Australia in the second ODI.