New Delhi, Jan 21: Veteran India cricketer MS Dhoni was termed as the biggest positive for India from the recently concluded three-ODI series against Australia. The senior-pro played back-to-back match-winning knocks as Team India registered its first-ever bilateral series win on the Australian soil.
The 37-year-old is now headed to New Zealand with his team where they'll play five ODIs and three T20Is with the Blackcaps. As Team India would be looking to continue their domination in the limited-overs format, Dhoni, on the other hand, could achieve some personal milestones in the one-day series.
With 446 runs, Dhoni is currently third on the list of India's leading run-getters in the ODI series in New Zealand. The former India captain is behind Sachin Tendulkar (652 in 18 matches) and Virender Sehwag (598 in 12 matches) in the list of leading run-getters for India in New Zealand.
Hence, Dhoni requires 197 more runs to surpass Tendulkar and claim another milestone to his name. Overall Dhoni has scored 541 runs in 12 matches in New Zealand.
Looking at the red-hot form he's in and three back-to-back fifties in Australia would hold Dhoni in good stead. He might not be the same old Dhoni who used to play an aggressor's role but the way he constructed his innings in all three ODIs againstt Australia, proves the 37-year-old is still good at scoring runs and his team matches.
New Zealand is one of those teams against whom Dhoni has done well. He has aggregated 841 runs against the Kiwis in 23 innings (24 matches) in the ODIs and averages 49.47, with 85* being highest.
The right-handed batsman from Ranchi will be key to India's success against the Blackcaps in the limited-overs series in the latter's backyard as he averages a whopping 90.16 in New Zealand with a strike rate of 96.95. Dhoni has also slammed six half-centuries in New Zealand.
Dhoni, who is the fifth to post 10000 ODI runs for India, wasn't in the best of his form in 2018 as he could not post even a single fifty-plus score in 20 ODIs. He had scored 275 runs from 13 innings with 42* being his highest total. But he has started 2019 on a positive note as he emerged as the Man of the Series for his batting exploits in the Australia series.
The tour of New Zealand not only gives an opportunity to the team to continue their domination in the limited-overs format but also presents them a good exercise in their ICC World Cup preparations. Like India, the Kiwis are also in great form and studded with potential match-winners who are poised to give a tough challenge to the Men In Blue.
The first ODI will be played at Napier on Wednesday (January 23). The subsequent ODIs will be played in Tauranga (January 26 and 28), Hamilton (January 31) and Wellington (February 3). The three T20s will be played in Wellington (February 6), Auckland (February 8) and Hamilton (February 10).
The ODI matches will start at 7:30 am IST while the three T20Is will start at 12:30 pm IST.