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4th ODI: India look to clinch series

On the other hand, English team will be dearly hoping that it can halt the losing streak and prevent whitewash in Kochi.

india Updated: Apr 05, 2006 13:41 IST

India grappled with an injury worry to in-form Yuvraj Singh ahead of the fourth cricket one-dayer against a demoralised England in Kochi on Thursday but have enough ammunition to take a series-clinching 4-0 lead in the seven-match series.

Yuvraj, who hit a match-winning century in the previous tie in Margao, missed the practice session as he underwent an MRI scan for a swelling in the leg at a local hospital.

Captain Rahul Dravid, however, said the Punjab left-hander would be fit and available for selection for the crucial tie which leaves the visitors with no option but to win to keep themselves afloat in the series.

Though the injury scare to Yuvraj will no doubt be a worrying factor for the hosts, the form of opener Virender Sehwag will also give the team management a sleepless night.

Sehwag has been given a fresh lease of life to prove himself and it remains to be seen whether the Delhi marauder changes his batting style to rediscover his form which has eluded him for long.

It will also be interesting to see whether Sehwag is dropped down the order, an option which the Indians may try out to help the opener to be among the runs again.

Robin Uthappa, who replaced Gautam Gambhir in the team, may get to play his first one-day international and the Karnataka opener will be keen to grab the opportunity with both hands.

Coach Greg Chappell said in no uncertain terms the other day that Sehwag, as well as Mohammad Kaif who had four ducks in five innings after the Goa match, would be given a long rope but their chances to regain form would not be endless.

"Both Kaif and Sehwag are very experienced. Both have the skills to succeed and would be given as many chances. But obviously it can't be an endless one," he said after the comprehensive 49-run victory in the third ODI.

Uthappa has come into the team by virtue of his impressive show in the Challenger Series in October 2005.

But six months is a long time in international cricket and whether the 20-year-old from Bangalore can reproduce the form remains to be seen.

On the other hand, England will be dearly hoping that they can halt the losing streak and prevent a whitewash.

They should thank Pakistan for beating Sri Lanka in their one-day series which has spared the Englishmen of having to qualify for the ICC Champions Trophy later in 2006 in India.

Andrew Flintoff, who has led the side admirably in the absence of skipper Michael Vaughan and other key players, has lacked support from his teammates in the one-dayers.

The visitors have not shown the same intensity seen in the Test series and the tour is fast falling apart.

The heat and humidity of this city on the Arabian Sea coast would severely test the character of the visitors who have an unenviable task of winning four matches on the trot to win the series. 

Bowling will be the main concern of the English think tank.

Their reluctance to play a second spinner might have cost them dearly in the three matches while the new crop of seamers -- Sajid Mahmood and Kabir Ali -- have not been impressive enough.

The team will entirely depend on Flintoff and Kevin Pietersen to help them put up a huge total and put the pressure on the Indians.

The home team went in with five specialist bowlers in the last match and it remains to be seen whether a similar strategy is used tomorrow on a track which was expected to provide some help to the bowlers.

The teams (from):

India: Rahul Dravid (captain), Robin Uthappa, Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, Mohd Kaif, Suresh Raina, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk), Irfan Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Ramesh Powar, Shantakumaran Sreesanth, Ajit Agarkar, Rudra Pratap Singh, Venugopala Rao, Munaf Patel.

England: Andrew Flintoff (captain), Matt Prior, Andrew Strauss, Owais Shah, Ian Bell, Kevin Pietersen, Paul Collingwood, Geraint Jones (wk), Ian Blackwell, Liam Plunkett, Kabir Ali, James Anderson, Matthew Hoggard, Gareth Batty, Sajid Mehmood and Vikram Solanki.