India have ticked the crucial boxes to end up on the winning side going into today's ODI series-decider against South Africa at Wankhede Stadium. As the series progressed, most batters managed to get some runs under their belt, pacers and spinners have bowled well in tandem, and the fielding has been at par with the South Africans.
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Virat Kohli at Wankhede Stadium on Saturday
However, the form of opener Shikhar Dhawan could be a weak link. The Delhi dasher hasn't quite got off the blocks against the Proteas. In four ODI matches, the southpaw has scored just 66 runs at an average of 16.50.
Dhoni's second-in-command Virat Kohli wasn't too concerned with his Delhi teammate's poor run. "Everyone will not get runs in every series. You will only have two batsmen per game scoring big and a couple of contributions. He has been tremendous for us in ODIs for a long period. The (2015) World Cup was a high pressure tournament and he stood out. If he gets going, he can take the game away. That is why we show so much faith in his ability.
He has different sort of mentality. When he keeps going, he keeps attacking throughout which is a rare quality. You have to back such players and especially against big opponents," Kohli said on Saturday.
150 vs Bangladesh 'A'
Dhawan came into the South Africa series on the back of a scintillating 150 against Bangladesh 'A', but the flamboyant opener had a poor T20I series, scoring three and 11 in the first two matches. His scores in the first four ODIs read 23, 23, 13 and 7. The southpaw's poor show was like a speed-breaker in Team India hitting top gear. India's best opening partnership in the ODI series has been of 42 runs (in the first ODI at Kanpur).
India opener Shikhar Dhawan plays a horizontal bat shot in the nets on Saturday. Pics/Atul Kamble
Dhawan, who has never played an ODI at Wankhede, looked convincing in the nets on Saturday. He batted fluently and hardly mistimed the ball. He then took a few throwdowns from batting coach Sanjay Bangar before having a one-on-one discussion with the former India player.
Kohli stressed it is a matter of one good innings for Dhawan. "He is playing beautifully. He is batting very well in the nets too. Performances do matter, but not all the time. I think his game has evolved in the past few months. He is in a good mental space. It's just a matter of one good innings and you all know how consistent he can be. I am not too worried about him not having scored. Tomorrow might be his day. He is a big match player," Kohli insisted.
Number of runs scored by Shikhar Dhawan in the ongoing series against SA