Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Wednesday said that Virat Kohli has the edge over Suresh Raina to bat at number four going by the current form of the two players while also saying that he would want Yuvraj Singh in the playing eleven for the World Cup.
Stating that Yuvraj did not get a chance to batÂ since Raina was sent up the order to have left-right combination, Dhoni said, "Major difficulty will come when Yuvraj gets going and scores one or two 50s, that will be the time we will be in a dilemma. Number four slot is very important for us. Right now it is a slot war. It is number four slot where Kohli needs to bat with Gautam Gambhir at number three."
"To perform to his potential, Virat needs to bat up the order. That is where Raina can score batting down the order as well and he has done very well batting at number five and six. So, it will be a slot war more than for a place in the playing eleven.
"Kohli is sort of a player who likes to spend little bit of time early and then go after the bowlers. Still, there is a bit of chance where Virat may get an edge over Raina seeing the current form he is in," he said after India crushed New Zealand by 117 runs in their second and final World Cup game here.
Talking about importance of having Yuvraj in the team, Dhoni said, "What is important is we are playing with four bowlers. A part-time spinner is really important especially if it is left-arm away going spinner. That really adds on to the bowling strength, that's the one big advantage he has got over others. Once he gets going, it is difficult to stop him (Yuvraj) from scoring runs."
Asked whether he is worried that Yuvraj has not been scoring big in recent times, Dhoni explained, "Today, he did not get an opportunity. It would have been nice for him if he had batted. It is important to have runs under your belt. You may be talented but at the end of the day you need those 30 or 40 runs and then you start thinking positively. Then you look to dominate the bowlers."
"Positive thing about Yuvraj is once he scores, he scores through the series. Being a left-arm bowler, he has been contributing right from South Africa; he has been a big strength to the team. If we play with three seamers and one spinner or two seamers or two spinners, Yuvraj role becomes important.
"He gives us the odd breakthroughs required in the middle overs. That is a big asset he has got where he edges over the others. If all the batsmen are in good form, I do not mind one batsman out of form. But the amount of talent he has got I will back him fully. We are not playing with seven bowlers," said Dhoni.
On the decision to send Raina ahead of Yuvraj after he got himself promoted up the order, Dhoni said, "That was the decision taken by Gary (Kristen). I was in the middle (batting). Both of us were padded up. We wanted a left-right combination. Virat got out and that is the reason why I got promoted myself. If Gautam had been out, Yuvraj would have come in."
"I remember the Peshawar game when I batted at number three or four. Later on, we were not able to capitalise in the slog overs and then I batted consistently for five, six or seven slots. That number you have to change the game and I did for the team.Â All of a sudden, if I have to change again to play up the order it will be difficult. At the same time, we have got talented players in the side to fill in those slots.
"I feel batting at number five to seven is a bit difficult as you have to bat according to the demands of the game at that point of time. Especially when you see Virat in a good form, he can play to his potential if he is played up in the order rather than batting at five six or seven."
Dhoni also talked about S Sreesanth's theatrics during matches and said he has no problem till the pacer does not cross "boundaries".
"I am very specific to him and told him that he should not cross a few boundaries. It is better that you do not cross those boundaries. If you want to irritate someone that should be the opposition and not your side. Till he does both these things, I am really happy to let him do whatever he wants to do. As for hisÂ behaviour, I do not think there was much. I must say that bit of chit chat is always fine. It does not mean that whenever we play cricket such things does not happen.
"As I said, there are certain boundaries that you should not get too personal with a player. If these guidelines are followed I am quite happy with it. More often than not it is the batsman and Sreesanth who knows exactly what is going on."
On the positives gained ahead of the World Cup, Dhoni said, "We have achieved whatever positives we can from practice games. From here on we have to start from scratch. We are playing on February 19 and hope we will perform to our potential."
On his own batting approach in the game, Dhoni, who scored an explosive unbeaten 108, said, "I wanted to spend more time in the wicket. In the last two three games, I tried to score off every delivery but one has to see the wicket whether the ball will come or not. I was pushing myself too much that was one of the reasons that I was getting out. I wanted to make the most out of this warm-up game.
"So, I said to myself that irrespective of whatever happens in the first 15-20 deliveries, I will be careful and after that I will look to score. My strength has always been like that. Even if my strike rate is initially 60 or 70, I can always accelerate. My main aim was to rotate with my partners."
Dhoni said whether Aswhin will get to play in the World Cup will depend on the condition and pitches.
"I think Ashwin is a positive character and has tremendous belief in himself. Whatever variations he has got, he backs himself to bowl in those areas. What we have seen lately is that he can contribute with the bat also. That is a big positive. On making him play or leave him out, we will decide after seeing the wicket. We have to know whether the wicket will spin or not and then go with two pace and two spinners or two pacers and three spinners," he said.
Stating that he wants to back each and every player, Dhoni said, "We want to back each and every individual irrespective of the fact whether he has played ten years, eight years or just made his debut. What we try to do is not to let any player dropped from the side."
"The core teams need to be tight together. As far as Yuvraj is concerned he is among the seniormost players with the amount of experience he has got from 230-240 odd international games. He has got plenty of experience batting at four and he has come up ranks from batting at number five or 6-7.
"It is a tough slot to perform because more often than not you don't get a chance to perform because the top order contributes if you are playing in the sub-continent. It's a plus to have him in your side. Big positive, big match player. The tournament is happening in India and he will push himself to perform."