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All geared up for decider at Vijayawada

Level with three wins apiece, India and the West Indies have vowed a fight to the finish in the deciding game of their seven-match limited-overs cricket series.

india Updated: Nov 24, 2002 00:14 IST

City of surprises. That's what Vijayawada has been so far. From the rogues' gallery at the station - a who's who of local crime apparently - to the complete absence of chaos inspite of tight security around both teams and everything associated with them.

Posters of the two skippers welcoming the teams have been put up all over the city. The Tricolour is being sold at street-corners. Everything is on course for a celebration.

Just the way India loves it.

The West Indies went for nets at the NTR Medical College on the outskirts of the city before returning to the stadium for outfield training and even that went off without a hitch. So far, so good.

Both captains gave the appropriate sound bytes to show that the final countdown has already begun. Rahul Dravid, yet to lose a match as India skipper, started it by saying he would deliberately keep things vague at the press conference.

"Honestly, I don't want to give anything away. Anything that the opposition can start planning on," he said.

Carl Hooper followed him to the dias and said: "This being the final match, both teams will try virtually everything." If his team is trying anything new tomorrow, Hooper isn't saying it.

And, oh, neither disclosed the starting line-up. As expected, Mervyn Dillon isn't playing because he is out with a lower-back injury. "Out for at least a week," West Indies manager Ricky Skeritt said before adding that the pace spearhead will travel to Bangladesh.

India aren't saying whether Harbhajan Singh, also injured, will play. Harbhajan bowled for some time at the nets outside the Indira Gandhi Municipal Corporation Stadium this morning but is said to have problems while moving sideways because of a groin strain.

A decision on the Turbanator will be taken tomorrow in consultation with the physio Andrew Leipus, the selectors (three of them including chairman Brijesh Patel are expected here) and coach John Wright. "We would like to give him as much time as possible to recover," Dravid said.

If Harbhajan doesn't make the cut, India may give Sarandeep Singh another international match, a source in the team said.

Whoever plays, it will probably be at Reetinder Singh Sodhi's expense. Back from injury and a long lay-off, Sodhi didn't distinguish himself in Jodhpur and though Wright pointed out that not everyone got the opportunity to showcase their abilities in this series, the former India colts' skipper may not get another chance.

For the time-being therefore, the search for a fifth bowler who can get a few runs has stopped at Sanjay Bangar.

"He's made the best of whatever opportunities have come his way. He's won matches for us," Wright said. Called 'Gautam Buddha' for his staid approach to batting in Test, Bangar, for who loves readings on Netaji Subhas Bose, has really exploded in the series for the TVS Cup.

India's batting order too isn't likely to change from Jodhpur if Dravid's self-confessed aversion to "juggling too much with the batting order" is anything to go by. Both coach and skipper, however, stressed on the need for flexibility.

With the wicket looking full of runs -- "it doesn't look much different from the other six," Hooper said -- the batsman are likely to have a picnic again.

The West Indies skipper was stating the obvious when he said his bowlers need to be accurate. Happy that his boys bowled a better line and length in Jodhpur especially at the start, Wright is hoping that it would be a trend-setter and not a fluke.

Teams (from):

India:Rahul Dravid (captain), Virender Sehwag, V V S Laxman, Dinesh Mongia, Sanjay Bangar, Mohammad Kaif, Yuvraj Singh, Reetinder Singh Sodhi, Ajit Agarkar, Harbhajan Singh, Murali Kartik, Javagal Srinath, Ashish Nehra, Sarandeep Singh, Parthiv Patel.

West Indies:Carl Hooper (captain), Chris Gayle, Wavell Hinds, Marlon Samuels, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Ricardo Powell, Ridley Jacobs, Mervyn Dillon, Cameron Cuffy, Pedro Collins, Vasbert Drakes, Jermaine Lawson, Daren Ganga, Corey Collymore.

Umpires:A V Jayaprakash and Asoka de Silva

Third Umpire:I Sivaram

First Published: Nov 23, 2002 14:39 IST