MS Dhoni: Tough to include Ajinkya Rahane in playing XI

Oct 11, 2015, 07:41 IST | PTI

Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni hints at dropping Mumbai batsman for the first ODI against South Africa in Kanpur today; says he is fit to bat only in the Top 3

Kanpur: Notwithstanding criticism for making Ajinkya Rahane warm benches, Indian skipper MS Dhoni on Saturday hinted that the talented batsman may not feature in the playing XI for the first ODI vs South Africa as he fits into the setup only in the 'top three' batting slots.

India ODI skipper MS Dhoni with Ajinkya Rahane (right) during a training session at Green Park Stadium in Kanpur on Saturday. Pic/AFP
India ODI skipper MS Dhoni with Ajinkya Rahane (right) during a training session at Green Park Stadium in Kanpur on Saturday. Pic/AFP

Dhoni, who had earlier criticised Rahane for not rotating the strike enough in limited overs, said that the Mumbai batsman should only bat at the top of the order and not at five or six. With top three — Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli — selecting themselves for the series opener at Green Park, it is unlikely that Rahane will fit the bill.

'Even No 4 is quite low'
"I think four is the number for Rahane. Even four is quite low for him I would say," said Dhoni on the eve of the match. The captain himself has promoted himself to No 4 and is looking for someone who can perform the role of a finisher, like what he did best for number of years. Talking more about Rahane, Dhoni said, "Opening fits him really well.

Take the example of Rohit Sharma for that matter. In domestic cricket he bats lower but in international matches he opens for us. Our openers more often than not are who bat in the middle order in first-class cricket.

"So it is tough for him as of now. If am looking for someone to bat five or six. I don't think he is the person. His strength is top of the order. If given a chance, we will try to feature him in the top three, if not then we would find it tough to place him in the playing XI." Rahane was made captain of the second string Indian team that toured Zimbabwe after Dhoni dropped him from the XI during the ODIs in Bangladesh.

"If you also see the last few series, you always felt Rahane is somebody who should bat up the order. Batting down he will face more difficulty. He is more flamboyant, more free when he bats up the order with a bit of field restrictions," said the skipper while talking about the prospect of Rahane, Ambati Rayudu and Suresh Raina coming in at six.

Three spinners?
On the game, he doesn't see dew to be a factor at all in the day game adding that there is a good chance of picking three specialist spinners in Ravichandran Ashwin, Axar Patel and Amit Mishra. Dhoni also made it clear that Gurkeerat Singh Mann will have to wait to make his India debut.

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