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India look to make it ten in a row

Standing on the verge of back-to-back 5-0 series wins, India will be charged up and look to hold on to the second spot in the ICC ODI rankings by winning the tour's final one-dayer on Sunday, reports Nilankur Das.The top three in the Last Six years

cricket Updated: Feb 08, 2009 01:15 IST
Nilankur Das

Standing on the verge of back-to-back 5-0 series wins, India will be charged up and look to hold on to the second spot in the ICC ODI rankings by winning the tour's final one-dayer on Sunday. If Australia beat New Zealand and India lose, then Mahendra Singh Dhoni's boys would be pushed back to the third spot and that could act as an extra boost for the visitors.

Sri Lanka on the other hand, stare at a first whitewash in a five-match series and their problems have been multiplied by the fact that their selectors have failed to provide enough alternatives to skipper Mahela Jayawardene. The skipper himself has struggled with his form and while in Bangladesh and Pakistan it did not matter as the team won, here slowing down in the run rate in the middle overs has hit the team badly.

India are running high on a line-up of batsmen in form and other than Sachin Tendulkar, who was rested in the last match, everybody in the top order has scored big. Looking ahead to the New Zealand series where the ball would do a lot more Dhoni's boys would want to gain every bit of confidence here.

Yuvraj Singh, Praveen Kumar and Zaheer Khan skipped Saturday's training session and could be the ones rested for the match. That could give Rohit Sharma another chance here (even if Sachin Tendulkar comes back) as it would to Irfan Pathan. If Praveen Kumar is rested it could open the door for Lakshmipathy Balaji for the first time since he played an ODI which was against the same opponents in 2005.

If those are the only changes that Dhoni opts for, it would mean Ravindra Jadeja will have to wait for his India cap till he is picked for another series.

The wicket at the Premadasa Stadium too hasn't helped their spinners much and despite having Muttiah Muralitharan and Ajantha Mendis in their ranks, they have failed to make the advantage count. Consequently India have got away playing three medium-pacers and have not felt the absence of their leading spinner Harbhajan Singh in this tour. Pragyan Ojha and the part-time spinners have delivered for Dhoni, who had the cushion of big totals to defend on most occasions.

Being a day fixture, the team winning the toss would want to field first as in the last three matches here it has been a batsman's paradise in the afternoon.

nilankur.das@hindustantimes.com

Agency adds

Kirsten wants India to be No. 1

India Coach Gary Kirstein had no hesitation in admitting that his main aim this year is to take India to the top position.

"Getting to number one is the obvious goal this year, but you just can't think you have won the series 4-0 and be complacent in the next game.

"It doesn't happen with us. When you go onto the field you go to win and not just compete. Great teams are those that carry the momentum forward into every game," Kirsten said.