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Series in kitty, India may experiment

cricket Updated: May 14, 2007 18:21 IST
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With the cricket series already in the kitty, India is eyeing a clean sweep in the three-match ODI series against Bangladesh on Tuesday to get a psychological boost ahead of the tougher assignments in the coming months.

Having avenged the World Cup loss to the neighbours by winning the first two ODIs in Dhaka, the visitors would be keen to keep to their winning path in the port city, which is hosting the third game.

Though the focus would soon shift to the Test matches, the first of which begins in Chittagong on Saturday, the engagement on the morrow provides India an excellent opportunity to test their strengths and weaknesses and experiment with the line-up before setting sail for England.

Later in the year, India host Australia and Pakistan and the positives from the ongoing series would stand the side in good stead.

Skipper Rahul Dravid has already spoken on similar lines.

"It will help us to be positive in the days ahead. There are tough challenges ahead of us. We will use this win as the springboard to face up to them," he said.

Team's stop-gap cricket manager Ravi Shastri wants to keep the team's adrenaline level high and thundered "There will be no let up. Bangladesh should not expect any mercy from us."

For Shastri, who will step down after the Bangladesh tour, this is the last ODI that would be played by the Indian team under his guidance. The BCCI is to sit for nominating a successor to the former all-rounder later this month.

However, the Indian team management would do well to take a long, hard look at the various negatives which have come to the fore during the series. The unpredictability of the several batsmen, the continued failure of Virender Sehwag particularly his tendency to throw his wicket to the shoddy fielding and the waywardness of the pacers, are some glaring shortcomings that need to be addressed immediately.

Among the 14 players now in the squad after Manoj Tiwary returned home with a shoulder injury, pacer R P Singh and young opener Robin Uthappa are yet to get a chance in the series, and could get a look-in at the Bir Sreshta Shahid Ruhul Amin Stadium on Tuesday.

In such a scenario, Dinesh Mongia and Munaf Patel could be asked to make way.

Bangladesh, on the other hand, received a jolt with vice captain Mohammed Ashraful being ruled out of the match with fever.

Ashraful had to be hospitalised on Saturday night and the Bangladesh selectors are now hoping that he recovers in time for the first Test.

For the hosts, the match provides an opportunity to salvage some pride by putting it across India.

And the way Bangladesh ran India close in the tour opener, any possibility of a replay of the World Cup upset cannot be ruled out.

The pitch, according to the curator, would be full of runs though there would be something for the bowlers too.