India vs Australia: Dhoni bags Man of the Series award in third ODI Down Under

Melbourne: Former skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Friday said he has no preference in the Indian batting order and is ready to bat at any position as per the need of the team.

Dhoni was adjudged the Man of the Series after he guided India to a comfortable seven-wicket win in the third ODI, thus securing a maiden 2-1 series win in Australia.

Batting at number four, Dhoni, who generally bats at number six, anchored India’s chase with a 114-ball 87 not out which was studded with six boundaries.

“I am happy to bat at any number. The important thing is where the team needs me,” said Dhoni, when asked where he wants to bat. “Whether I play at 4 or 6, we need to see if the team balance can be retained. I’m happy to bat lower down at 6. I can’t say I can’t bat at No. 6 after playing 14 years,” he said after the match.

Dhoni and Kedar Jadhav shared a 121-run partnership for the unconquered fourth wicket while chasing a tricky target of 231.

It is the first time India remained unbeaten on Australian soil in all three formats and captain Kohli said it augurs well for the upcoming World Cup.

Dhoni had faced criticism for slow batting in the ODI series-opener in Sydney earlier, before redeeming his reputation with match-winning contributions in the Adelaide and Melbourne ODIs.

Acknowledging Dhoni’s contribution in the historic series-triumph in Australia, Kohli defended the former captain saying he should be allowed breathing space.

“I think firstly as a team we are very happy for Dhoni. That he is amongst the runs, because it is very important to get runs under your belt to get that rhythm and get that confidence back. Especially when you have not been playing so much international cricket,” said the India captain at the post-match press conference.

“Dhoni batted at number four in 2016 for a while. But after that he has been pretty happy playing at five and six for the team. We felt that number five was the ideal position for him. And if you saw him bat at Adelaide as well he was pretty comfortable in that position because that allows him to do a bit of both – get some game time as well as finish games off, attacking as and when required,” Kohli said.

Playing his first match in the series, Yuzvendra Chahal sizzled with a maiden six-wicket haul to be adjudged the Man of the Match. “I enjoyed bowling for the first time in Australia (internationals),” Chahal said. “The ball was spinning a little bit, so I planned to bowl slow and vary my pace. Looking forward to the New Zealand series.”

Australian captain Aaron Finch said: “We took it down to the wire. Our batting in the first couple of games was very good. Maybe we should have set our targets lower on those sort of pitches.

“When you give great players a couple of chances, it’s always tough…we did put down chances, but the boys gave it their all. Their batting in the first couple of games was very good.”

(With inputs from Agencies)