India’s assistant coach Sanjay Bangar on Saturday confirmed the return of in-form Mahendra Singh Dhoni for Sunday’s fifth and final ODI against New Zealand, after the former skipper was declared fit. Also Read - Highlights India vs Australia 4th Test Day 5 Gabba, Brisbane Today's Match Scorecard AS IT HAPPENED: Rishabh Pant, Shubman Gill Help IND Register Historic Series Win; Retain Border-Gavaskar Trophy
The 37-year-old Dhoni was out of the third and fourth ODIs with a hamstring injury and his return to the playing XI will bolster the struggling middle-order that crumbled under pressure in the penultimate match, which the visitors lost by eight wickets. Also Read - IND vs AUS, 4th Test: Rishabh Pant Breaks MS Dhoni's Record, Becomes Fastest Indian Wicketkeeper to 1,000 Test Runs
“Yes, he (Dhoni) is fit and will be playing the fifth ODI,” Bangar told reporters in the pre-match presser on Saturday. Also Read - India's Predicted Squad For England Test Series: Kohli, Ishant Set to Return; Shami, Jadeja And Vihari Unavailable
Dhoni, who recently struck three back-to-back half centuries to bag the Man-of-the-Series award against Australia, is in prime form and scored a 33-ball 48 in the second ODI against the Kiwis.
In his absence, and the subsequent rest of regular skipper Virat Kohli for the remainder of the series, the Indian middle order failed drastically in the fourth game.
Bangar, however, backed the middle-order batsmen saying they will step up whenever it is needed.
“The middle order has risen to the occasion many times and delivered. Yes some situation has been trying but it is not that the middle order hasn’t performed,” he said.
“When required, more often than not whenever it has been put in a situation, it has delivered, may be the last game was an aberration,” the 46-year-old added.
With the Indian top-order comprising Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, and regular skipper Virat Kohli scoring the bulk of the runs in recent times, Bangar said: “If they (top-order batsmen) are batting well then the middle order doesn’t get the opportunity required to maintain the groove.”
“It is also one of those series where our top order hasn’t got a hundred, so it has given a lot of time to the middle order to go out there and play situations… and they have finished games when they have got an opportunity.”
India currently lead the rubber 3-1.