Former Indian skipper MS Dhoni has been declared fit for the fifth and final ODI of the series to be played against New Zealand on Sunday. The veteran wicketkeeper had to miss out on the third and the fourth ODI with a hamstring injury and his return could not have been timed better from the visitors’ point of view after an unfathomable collapse in the fourth ODI at Hamilton. The five match series currently stands at 3-1 in favour of the visitors.
New Zealand all rounder James Neesham identified MS Dhoni as the main danger man for the Kiwis in the fifth ODI. The 28 year old, who made a comeback into the ODI team after over a year’s absence, heaped praise on the former Indian skipper, calling him a fantastic player in the middle order for Team India. Neesham also mentioned that the New Zealand bowlers would be looking to restrict MS Dhoni in the remainder of the tour.
“His [Dhoni’s] records speak for itself. I mean, he is a fantastic player. Some noise was made especially from Indian media about whether he should be there in their World Cup squad or not. But as I said, his record speaks for itself. He’s got that calm demeanour in the middle order. And when you’re bowling to him, you know you haven’t won the game till you’ve got him out. Hopefully, we can do that tomorrow and run through them,” Neesham said ahead of the fifth ODI.
There were huge concerns in the Indian dressing room surrounding MS Dhoni’s form at the start of the year after a bleak 2018 in which he could manage only 275 runs from 20 matches. The 37 year old however seems to have hit peak form at the right time with three consecutive half centuries against Australia to start the World Cup year with a bang.
Dhoni finished with 193 runs from three games and was adjudged the Man of the Series for his performance. Dhoni carried his good form to New Zealand, striking a 33 ball 48 to guide India to a 90 run victory in the second ODI at Mount Maunganui. The 37 year old certainly seems to have sealed his spot as the first choice wicketkeeper in the squad as far as the 2019 World Cup is concerned.
Neesham mentioned that New Zealand would be looking forward to continuing their good work from the fourth ODI at Wellington. He added that India were a really good side despite the absence of skipper Virat Kohli and that there would not be any case of complacency given the quality of the rest of the batting line up.
“Stats speak for themselves. In the last two years, their top three averages 20 odd more than any other country in the world. They have obviously got a whole lot of quality at the top there. And Virat is resting but there is a lot of wraps on the rest of their top order as well. So there is certainly not a case of getting complacent. We just have to put the ball in the right areas again… as Boult did in Hamilton… and hopefully run through them again,” Neesham went on to say.