Dhoni: Batting up the order is not for me

India

India limited-overs captain MS Dhoni says he could bat up the order for their matches in Zimbabwe but wants the younger batsmen to take their opportunities and stake a claim to play regular international cricket.

After comfortably winning the three ODIs in Zimbabwe, India fell to a shock two-run defeat in the first of three T20Is in Harare on Saturday.

Batting at number six, Dhoni ended on 18 not out but could not carry his team over the line as the Zimbabwe side celebrated a famous win.

India are resting a number of key players for this tour, including batsmen Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane, with Dhoni having more than double the international caps than the rest of the India squad combined.

About batting up the order, Dhoni said: "It's not for me. If I had to bat up, I could easily bat at four for this team. But what is important is for these youngsters to bat at that number because this is an opportunity for them.

"The only reason I am here is to understand them and at the same time guide them as to what has to be done."

The India skipper also said his side has to give the hosts the respect they deserve in the remaining two matches, with India needing to win both games to clinch the T20I series.

Dhoni continued: "It doesn't matter which team you're playing. It's a levelling experience.

"What I mean by that is you need to give a lot of respect to cricket and when you go in to bat or bowl in the field, irrespective of the opposition, you have to be at your best.

"You can't play with your reputation or playing eleven that looks good on paper. What's important is how well you play on the field, how well you're executing. It's the cricket that wins you the games, not the teams."

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