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Talent hunt: Looking at World Cup and beyond

If each match is considered a chapter in the unfolding story of a series, then Tuesday's and Wednesday's are inconsequential: India have already won the five-match series. Nikhilesh Bhattacharya writes.

cricket Updated: Dec 07, 2010 01:52 IST
Nikhilesh Bhattacharya

An overcast sky and gusts of wind greeted New Zealand and India players at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore on Monday afternoon, 24 hours before the fourth match of the One-day International series.

The sun rarely showed its face and there was a hint of rain in the morning. The forecast for Tuesday is for showers. In Chennai, the venue for the fifth and final one-dayer, it has been raining heavily for the past four days.

If each match is considered a chapter in the unfolding story of a series, then Tuesday's and Wednesday's are inconsequential: India have already won the five-match series thanks to their wins in Guwahati, Jaipur and Vadodara.

However, the matches could prove to be important chapters in some players' careers, even beyond next year's World
Cup.

“It is good opportunity — the players who may not find a place in the World Cup squad could still be the talents for the future. Youngsters, who are benched, should cash in on whatever opportunity they get to make a mark for themselves,”
captain Gautam Gambhir said on Monday.

So, Rohit Sharma and Saurabh Tiwary will hope they can somehow get into the middle-order and, importantly, get a bat. Except for the first match, where India were all out in 49 overs, no one from No. 5 downwards has got a chance to go out in the middle.

Wicketkeeper Parthiv Patel will look to thank the selectors for giving him a chance to show whether it was wise to keep
him out of the team for so long. He batted first in the nets on Monday, although it's not clear where he will bat on Tuesday.

Among the medium-pacers, the newly married Praveen Kumar will hope he gets to show he can still swing the new ball both ways.

Munaf Patel will be eying another miserly performance, and maybe a couple of wickets, as first change.

Gambhir was all praise for his bowlers. “They've won us the series.”

For New Zealand, the target is simpler: put an end to their nine-match losing streak. Captain Daniel Vettori put up a brave face. “Focusing on those losses is not going to help anyone but it is still there. What we have to do tomorrow is to be clear in our minds and perform the roles that we need to do,” said Vettori.

Two batsmen who can help New Zealand do that are Brendon McCullum and Ross Taylor and both have fond memories of the ground.

McCullum, still struggling with back spasms that may prevent him from keeping wickets, first made his name as a murderous batsman by smashing 158 off 73 deliveries for the Kolkata Knight Riders against the Bangalore Royal Challengers in the inaugural match of the first Indian Premier League at this stadium. Taylor is considered a home boy because he plays for the Royal Challengers, but has been struggling for form recently.

Vettori will hope one or both of them fire on Tuesday. Match reckoner