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India to field best combination vs WI

india Updated: Jan 30, 2007 15:32 IST
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After the reversal at Chennai that kept the series alive, India will be keen to field their best combination as they seek to wrap up the one-day cricket series against the West Indies in Vadodara on Wednesday.

The three-wicket defeat in the third ODI has reduced India's advantage in the series to 2-1 and the hosts would like to regain the winning momentum at a venue which has traditionally been a happy hunting ground for them.

India have won four out of the five matches they have played here, but significantly the only loss they suffered here was against the men from the Caribbean in 2002-03 in a tall-scoring contest in which West Indies successfully chased 290.

This will be the seventh encounter at this ground, which has also played host to the 1996 World Cup clash between New Zealand and the Netherlands.

India are expected to field a left-right opening pair of Ganguly, who was rested at Chennai, and Robin Uthappa, whose blazing innings of 70 off 41 balls was wasted by the middle and lower order batsmen.

Another attention-grabbing knock is expected to get the 20-year-old Bangalore batsman into the Indian 15 for the World Cup though there are indications he has already made the grade after his pyrotechnics at Chennai.

The return of Dhoni would also strengthen the middle order with the Jharkhand wicketkeeper-batsman's penchant for big hits and ability to cart around the older ball on a pitch expected to be benign and true.

Some cloud cover has been predicted by weather pundits for Wednesday the forecast of unseasonal showers on Tuesday after the city recorded steady drizzle on Monday. If that happens, new ball bowlers can get some swing going their way.

The performance of Irfan Pathan, sent back to rediscover his wicket-taking touch from South Africa before the end of the tour, would be eagerly watched by selectors. They included the Baroda left-arm pacer the moment he showed signs of returning to form in the Ranji Trophy semi-final against Mumbai.

Pathan's presence also adds depth to the batting. His inclusion would leave S Sreesanth, so impressive in the Tests in South Africa, out of the playing squad with Ajit Agarkar and Zaheer Khan expected to complete the hosts' pace attack.

The Indian think tank would also be eager to see Anil Kumble strike form after his expensive spell in Chennai and the return of Harbhajan Singh, who sat out the third ODI, would be keenly watched.

For the West Indies, the return of in-form batsman Shivnarine Chanderpaul would be a huge plus after he was rested in the third ODI, but they would be equally anxious to see their flamboyant opener Chris Gayle rediscover his batting touch at a venue where he pulverised the Indian bowling with Wavell Hinds in an opening century stand four seasons ago.

The Windies would also hope that Marlon Samuels maintains the form he showed in scoring a fine 98 in Chennai as he has got the ability to clout the older ball and finish a match, a trait he showed at Vijayawada in the last bilateral series in India which the visitors won 4-3.

Dwayne Bravo, after having been reprimanded and fined by match referee Alan Hurst for excessive appealing and prematurely celebrating the dismissal of Dinesh Kaartick, needs to be careful not to be over-enthusiastic to avoid a harsher penalty.

The squads:

India: Rahul Dravid (capt), Sourav Ganguly, Robin Uthappa, Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk), Dinesh Kartik, Gautam Gambhir, Irfan Pathan, Ajit Agarkar, Ramesh Powar, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Anil Kumble, S Sreeshanth.

West Indies: Brian Lara (capt), Chris Gayle, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Ronoko Morton, Marlon Samuels, Dwayne Bravo, Dwayne Smith, Dinesh Ramdin (wk), Lendl Simmons, Ian Bradshaw, Rayad Emrit, Darren Powell, Devon Smith, Jerome Taylor.

Umpires: Billy Bowden and Amish Saheba

Third umpire: Suresh Shastri

Match referee: Alan Hurst.

Hours of Play: 9 am to 12.30 pm; 1.15 pm to close.

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