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MS Dhoni’s knock wasn’t helping Rohit at the other end, says Ajit Agarkar

The duo shared a 137-run partnership but couldn't ensure the team a win.

MS Dhoni
MS Dhoni. (Photo by SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Former India cricketer Ajit Agarkar believes MS Dhoni’s slow knock in the first ODI against Australia piled the pressure on his partner Rohit Sharma. Dhoni had a bitter-sweet outing with the bat in Sydney. The 37-year-old scored his first fifty in ODIs since December 2017. During the course of the knock, he also became just the fifth Indian to score 10,000 ODI runs for the country. However, despite scoring a fighting fifty, Dhoni is facing the heat for taking 96 deliveries to get those runs.

India were in all sorts of trouble when they started their pursuit of 288. Australian pacers Jhye Richardson and Jason Behrendorff wreaked havoc early on, dismissing Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli and Ambati Rayudu to reduce India to 4 for 3. The game looked pretty much over at that moment before Rohit and Dhoni steadied the ship.

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With the situation not ideal, neither of the two went for the early shots early on. But as the game progressed, Rohit started playing the big shots. However, Dhoni struggled to get going again which mounted the required run-rate.

The wicketkeeper-batsman eventually departed after scoring 51 while Rohit went on to compile a fine ton and the two shared 137 runs for the fourth wicket. The opening batsman scored 133 but little support from the other end saw his heroic effort go in vain. India were eventually restricted to 254 for 9. And Ajit Agarkar feels Dhoni’s innings served little help to Rohit at the other end.

“Yes, tough situation to come in when you are three down with four runs on the board. And you could argue that the first 25-30 balls, you’ve not been here. But once you are set. I mean Rohit can get 288 all by himself. There has to be a support from the other end. And not from someone who is striking at 50 when he finishes after 100 balls. And, 100 balls are a lot of deliveries in one-day cricket,” said Agarkar in conversation with ESPNCricinfo.

“You can argue for the first few deliveries because the pressure is on and you don’t want to throw your wicket. But eventually, you need to do what the team requires you to do. And if you are not doing it then you got to worry about whether the person is good enough to do it or not. Yes, he got a fifty but even then it was fifty off like 100 balls. That wasn’t helping Rohit at the other end. Dhoni fans might argue that he got a rough one otherwise he could have carried on. But it did not look like in that stage. It seemed that Rohit was doing the bulk of the work,” he added.

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