MS Dhoni made 51 off 96 balls in the first ODI against Australia at the SCG. He added 137 in 28 overs with Rohit to repair the early damage after India were 3 for 4, but it was an innings that could again divide opinion on Dhoni’s diminishing strike rates at the twilight of his career.
As such, his form has prompted much debate following a lean 2018 where he averaged 25 with a strike-rate of 71.42, without a half-century in 13 innings. These returns were comfortably his lowest in any year since his ODI debut in December 2004.
In the half-century at the SCG, his first since making 65 against Sri Lanka in December 2017, Dhoni faced 63 dot balls out of his 96 deliveries. However, Rohit Sharma and Dhoni knew they were India’s last chance of making the chase a contest after Jason Behrendorff and Jhye Richardson ran through the top order inside four overs.
“When he came out to bat today (Saturday), we’d already lost three wickets, the guys were bowling pretty well and we had to respect that spell,” Rohit said. “We took a little bit of time, even myself, I took some time and didn’t score as quickly as I normally do. At that point losing another wicket the game would have been dead, so we wanted to make sure we take the game forward so we had to play dot balls.
“It’s a good sign for us that he [Dhoni] showed he can come out and bat whenever the team wants him to bat.”