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Chennai: Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni will face one of the trickiest tests of his international career as he frets on a perfect batting combination when India take on South Africa in a must-win fourth cricket ODI here on Thursday.

Down 1-2, with a bunch of batsmen not showing enough flexibility, the task has become tougher for skipper Dhoni, who is facing the danger of losing a home ODI series and a second straight one after the 2-1 defeat against Bangladesh earlier this year.

If Ravichandran Ashwin’s side strain is one of the many on-field worries for Dhoni, the problems have been compounded by off-field woes as leg-spinner Amit Mishra is facing assault charges with a woman filing a case against the leg-spinner at the Bengaluru police station. It is still not clear whether Mishra will be playing this match or not.

Run chases have been a problem of late for the Indian team as skipper himself has admitted that the side is yet to figure out as to who are the ideal players at Nos 5, 6 and 7.

These are the three slots where batsmen who are capable of big hits and can be finishers in close run chases are preferred.

However, with Dhoni preferring to bat up the order, Ajinkya Rahane is yet to find his mojo at No 5 or 6. Dhoni’s deputy Virat Kohli finally got some ODI runs (77) in the last game albeit it came in a losing cause.

But Virat scored the moment he was back at his preferred No 3 slot while Rahane, the moment he was demoted, couldn’t get going after two half-centuries in the first two games.

Only three runs from three matches is not a fair indication from Suresh Raina, one of India’s better limited overs cricketer.

While Rohit Sharma is in the form of his life, the same can’t be said about his opening partner Shikhar Dhawan, who has managed only 59 runs in three matches. Strangely, Dhawan has so far scored three centuries in his last three Test matches.

With 173 runs in three matches, Dhoni is now second in the list among Indian run-scorers after Rohit Sharma (218 runs).

While Indore saw what Dhoni is capable of, Rajkot was an example of a player who is reaching the business end of a fine limited overs career.


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