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India decide to rest frontline bowlers for last game

cricket Updated: Nov 17, 2007 20:05 IST
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Having already clinched the one-day series against Pakistan, India have decided to rest their frontline bowlers as they go into the fifth and final cricket one-dayer in Jaipur on Sunday with a combination heavily loaded with batsmen.

The unassailable 3-1 lead in the five-match series has given the home team the luxury to try out some of their bench players and the team management has opted to give the main bowlers a break.

The Indians have chosen to leave out pace spearhead Zaheer Khan, off-spinner Harbhajan Singh and pacer R P Singh from the match which has been reduced to an academic interest following the team's first home series triumph in 24 years.

"We have decided to rest Zaheer, Harbhajan and RP Singh for the match. We will decide the playing eleven after having a look at the pitch tomorrow", cricket manager Lalchand Rajput said.

Temperamental paceman S Sreesanth, who has not played a single match in the series, and in-form left arm spinner Murali Kartik are almost certain to play the floodlit encounter which promises to be another high-scoring affair.

The decision to rest the key bowler means that senior batsmen like Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly, who were expected to be rested, may figure in the playing line-up.

Among the 12 shortlisted for the match, batsman Rohit Sharma and all-rounder Praveen Kumar have not played a single game so far and it is quite possible that both the young players are drafted in the eleven.

A victory in the final day-night encounter will be the perfect boost for the hosts when they go into the three-match Test series beginning in Delhi from November 22.

While some insist that the Shoaib Malik-led squad could well be the weakest Pakistani side ever to cross the border, India's performance has proved that Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his teammates have maintained a vice-like grip over the series, with the defeat in Mohali being the lone blemish.

Of the four matches played so far, a domineering India ambled to win in Guwahati with three overs to spare, romped home in Kanpur and cantered to victory with 3.3 overs to go in Gwalior.

In contrast, Pakistan huffed and puffed their way to a thrilling win, with one ball to spare, in the second ODI at Mohali and they did not get another occasion to celebrate thereafter.

Under Malik, Pakistan have looked a disjointed lot, severely plagued by bankruptcy of ideas and slipshod application out in the field.

Though Salman Butt got his form back in the series, Pakistan relied just too much on Younis Khan and Mohammad Yousuf and whenever the Y-Y combo came a cropper, so did the visitors.

And in absence of Mohammad Asif and a quality spinner in the squad, Pakistan attack lacked both the firepower and the sting as India merrily feasted on them.

In his pomp, the mere sight of Shoaib Akhtar starting his spectacular run up was enough to send shivers down the spine of his opponents.