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‘MSD should bat at No. 6’

Former India skipper Rahul Dravid on Wednesday suggested that Mahendra Singh Dhoni should consistently bat at number six in Tests as it can potentially change the complexion of the side in abroad series.

Dhoni batted at number six in the just-concluded first Test against Australia and went on to score a game-changing knock of 224 in the first innings.

It was after two years that Dhoni played at number six as the last time Indian skipper played at this position was in February 2010 against South Africa in Nagpur.

In his 116 Test innings so far, Dhoni has played at number six or above only 17 times, mostly featuring at number seven.

Dravid said Dhoni’s decision to bat a little up the order was right and he should stick with it.

‘He has moved up the order a little bit which has given him a chance to play such an innings, batting at number seven is difficult. At six, he will have an established batsman before him and an all-rounder after him,’ Dravid said.

‘From India’s point of view, they will want him to replicate this abroad and if he can actually bat at number six abroad, it will make India a different side, it will change the complexion of Indian team, the balance of the team will be different,’ Dravid said.

‘No one is expecting a 200 from him every time he plays abroad but a level of consistency abroad will change the complexion of the Indian side,’ he added.

India’s next foreign assignment is against South Africa and Dravid wants Dhoni to bat at number six there.

‘I will want him to be at no 6 and I would like him to make a fist of it at no 6 in abroad as well.... It could allow you to play an all-rounder or someone like (Ravindra)

Jadeja at 7 and three fast bowler. Of course Jadeja has to up his own batting. It will give a balance and option to the team. Whether they would have the courage to do it abroad, remains to be seen,’ said the 40-year-old cricketer.

Asked if the double-century will give Dhoni a little breathing space after facing the flak as a captain for quite sometime, Dravid said, ‘I don’t think a lot of these stuff bothers him. That’s why he survived and had a lot of success.’

‘This innings was important for him from his own point of view. If you keep losing and doing that day in and day out you can become weary of the job. You need some enjoyment, some reinforcement. There is nothing like scoring runs and winning as a captain, you need that reinforcement and this innings will be an reinforcement,’ he said.  Dravid, who now captains Rajasthan Royals in the IPL, was also impressed with R Ashwin, who scalped 12 wickets in the series-opener against Australia.

‘Ashwin had a sort of setback but he has spent a lot of time with his coach. I don’t judge the youngsters by their setbacks. He has worked on his game and bowled a lot fuller during the Test, he bowled a lot slower. It is nice to see that he has bounced back from setback and it is a good sign going ahead,’ he said.


TEAMS REACH HYDERABAD

Indian and Australian cricket teams arrived here Wednesday for the second cricket Test match from March 2.

Both teams flew in from Chennai where India won the first Test. After landing at the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport, the teams drove to the hotel.

After a day’s rest, both teams would practice Thursday at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium, Uppal. Meanwhile, unprecedented security arrangements are being made at the stadium in the wake of Feb 21 terror attack here that killed 16 people and injured 117.

Hyderabad Cricket Association (HCA) is installing 70 CCTV cameras in the stadium. The Andhra Pradesh government has promised fool-proof security for the match.  Security officials (CA) and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) Monday briefed HCA on the security requirements.


INDIA MOVE TO FOURTH SPOT; R ASHWIN REACHES CAREER BEST RANKINGS

India moved up a rung to fourth in the ICC Test rankings for teams replacing Pakistan, while veteran Sachin Tendulkar jumped three places to be 17th in the batsmen’s chart announced on Wednesday.Among the bowlers, off-spinner R Ashwin was rewarded for his match haul of 12 for 198 in the first Test as he rose to a career-best 11th.India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni charged up 15 places to 21st courtesy his maiden double hundred at Chennai. Other centurion of the Chennai Test Virat Kohli has gained 10 places and is now on a career-best 25th position. South Africa consolidated their position on the top of the Test rankings after a thumping victory over Pakistan in the third and the final Test at Centurion. There was no other change in the top 10 of the bowlers’ table, which is headed by South Africa’s Dale Steyn followed by his teammate Vernon Philander. Hashim Amla continued to lead the Test batsmen chart followed by Australian skipper Michael Clarke.
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