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India vs Sri Lanka, 4th ODI: Hosts in no mood to let go

With the pitch at Eden Gardens likely to be a belter, it could get worse for Sri Lanka. Dead rubber or not, India will be looking to make the most of the opportunity.

cricket Updated: Nov 13, 2014 10:08 IST
Somshuvra Laha
Somshuvra Laha
Hindustan Times

It's difficult to find relevance in irrelevance. India are back at No.1, their openers have got runs and Umesh Yadav is breathing fire and taking wickets. Most importantly, the series has been pocketed. But despite having upended Sri Lanka comfortably, India are in no mood to let go.

Not since the tour of Zimbabwe last July did India exercise such complete authority in a series. They eventually won 5-0 against a side which now is struggling to avoid a clean sweep in Tests against Bangladesh, who too haven't had the best of records in recent years.

India have been good but Sri Lanka's drop in form is nothing short of astounding. Not since India's tour of Sri Lanka in July 2012 have they lost three matches in a row.

With Kumar Sangakkara gone, Sri Lanka look even more depleted. India's only concern now could be Ajantha Mendis who has been flown in for the last two ODIs.

Mendis last played limited over cricket in July but he is also the same spinner who once took a personal best of six for 13 against India six years ago. That Mendis could have his first game at the Eden Gardens, where he had turned out for KKR for nearly two seasons, should also keep him in good stead.

But motivation won't be a problem for India, said Virat Kohli. That winning mindset is now India's prerogative.

"As I said at the beginning of the series, our aim is to be ruthless and win every match. It is important because the World Cup is around the corner, and there is no place for complacency. It is something we are trying to make it a team culture, going into a big tournament and finish it off," said Kohli on Wednesday.

The experimenting though will continue. And top priority would be given to how Rohit Sharma takes to opening the batting again.

"It was unfortunate that he had to go out with an injury when he was batting well. Now he has had some rest, and he might get a hundred in the first match he plays against Sri Lanka. That's the kind of mental toughness he has," said Kohli.

"If a player like him gets going he can be the X-factor in a tournament like the World Cup. When he gets going, he can bring those big runs and wins the match for you. His value for the team is massive."

A straight-talker, Kohli didn't wait till the toss to reveal who would keep wickets in the absence of MS Dhoni and Wriddhiman Saha. "It will be Robin Uthappa," said Kohli.

Uthappa's inclusion once again underlined the influence the IPL has on selection these days.

"The reason why he was picked is because the way he batted in the IPL. And there was no slogging," said Kohli.

So even as Shikhar Dhawan and Ravindra Jadeja have been rested, India won't be short of ammunition with the bat. And with the pitch at Eden Gardens likely to be a belter, it could get worse for Sri Lanka.

Dead rubber or not, India will be looking to make the most of the opportunity.

First Published: Nov 13, 2014 02:55 IST