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5th ODI: India to try out reserves

On the other hand, the visitors will be keen to salvage some pride after the embarrassing sequence of defeats.

india Updated: Apr 08, 2006 14:59 IST

Having already clinched the seven-match one-day series by taking an unassailable 4-0 lead, India will be eager to maintain their stranglehold as they go into the fifth match against a demoralised Englandin Guwahation Sundaywith the objective of testing out some of their bench players.

The 4-0 cushion has allowed the team management the luxury of resting skipper Rahul Dravid and handing over the responsibility to his out-of-form deputy Virender Sehwag who now has to rise up to the double challenge of leading the side and getting back among runs.

Karnataka opener Robin Uthappa is almost certain to make his international debut while lanky paceman VRV Singh, who replaces Dravid in the squad, is also likely to get a chance to play against the visitors who will be keen to salvage some pride after the embarrassingsequence of defeats.

But the injury to wicketkeeper-batsman Geraint Jones, a doubtful starter because of a leg injury, has compounded their misery ahead of the game which could be affected by inclement weather.

Heavy unseasonal rains in this north-eastern city in the last few days have hampered preparations at the Nehru stadium and though the weather improved on Saturday, the Met office has forecast more showers for Sunday.

The hosts have made it clear that they would try out a few youngstersin their bid to develop the squad further but a lot of their efforts will also go into ensuring that Sehwag and Mohammad Kaif find their form which has eluded them for long.

Coach Greg Chappell, though not wanting to concede an inch to the visitors, would like to watch the young guns charging up at the middle to create more options in the run-up up to2007 World Cup.

The poor batting forms of Sehwag and Kaif have stuck out like sore thumbs in the otherwise superlative show from the hosts, who are in the midst of an unprecedented run, winning 16 of their last 20 one-day games.

An aggregate of 95 runs at a miserly average of 19 in the Test series followed by a paltry 73 in the four ODIs has raised questions about Sehwag's continuation in the team, with even Chappell going on record that his chances of getting into form would not be endless.

The England bowlers seem to have done their homework on Sehwag well, as they have consistently denied him any leeway to launch into his trademark aggressive shots.

But with the series decided, there should be less pressure on the Delhi marauder and the team management will be hoping that he breaks his prolonged form slump tomorrow on a track which was expected to suit the batsmen.

Kaif's form has been worse. Scores of 4, 0, 0 and 5 totalling 9 seems like the statistics of a tailender who is a rabbit with the bat, and the middle-order batsman needs to get cracking soon to keep his place in the side, with several promising cricketers waiting on the sidelines.

On the positive side, the Indian batting resources look formidable, with the stress being heavily on youth.

Young Suresh Raina, having played a lead role in shaping wins for the team in two of the matches, has been a real revelation and his batting talent added to the power of the fast-maturing Mahendra Singh Dhoni, makes the Indian batting line-up a headache for England skipper Andrew Flintoff and his men.

In the bowling department, India also have a lot more options and the inclusion of VRV Singh has strengthened the pace attack.

With Irfan Pathan having played a lot of cricket in recent times, the team management may decide to rest him for the inconsequential match. In that case, Munaf Patel, who bowled quite well in the Test matches, could get another opportunity to play.

England, on the other hand, would try to salvage some prestige, as star batsman Kevin Pietersen said his team would try to take the positives from the string of defeats.

"Though we have lost the series, there are three more games and we will put in an extra effort to come out with good performances," he said.

"We need to take some positive steps in the next three games and get things right and achieve something."

With half the side back home due to injuries, England have looked rugged in both the batting and bowling departments in the one-dayers after their impressive showing in the Tests.

England's batting has been solely dependent on Kevin Pieterson, with Paul Collingwood coming up with the occasional good knocks, but Flintoff has failed to find his rhythm.

The showers have made the outfield slow, but curator Sunil Baruah feels that the pitch would still be full of runs.

The teams (from)

India: Virender Sehwag (captain), Robin Uthappa, 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 and Vikram Rajvir Singh.

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.

First Published: Apr 08, 2006 14:17 IST