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Balaji likely to make debut

India is likely to give a look-in to the uncapped seam bowler L Balaji in the fifth match of the one-day series against West Indies here on Monday.

india Updated: Nov 17, 2002 19:24 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India

Encouraged by the performance of their young brigade, India is likely to give a look-in to the uncapped seam bowler L Balaji in the fifth match of the one-day series against West Indies here on Monday.

With left-arm seamer Ashish Nehra being largely unimpressive against the free-stroking West Indian batsmen in the fourth match at Ahmedabad, and the Indian think-tank trying out different combinations prior to the next year's World Cup, the right-arm seamer from Tamil Nadu was likely to make his international debut on Monday.

The seven-match series is interestingly poised at 2-2 and with the teams matching each other in strength, tomorrow's outing promises to be another thriller of a contest.

The match has also generated renewed public interest after the home team stormed back in style, winning the third and the fourth one-dayers at Rajkot and Ahmedabad after losing the first two at Jamshedpur and Nagpur.

India's five-wicket win at Ahmedabad was just what was needed to wipe out the bad memories of crowd trouble that marred the first three matches.

That it was incident-free and India successfully chased a mammoth 324, made the Ahmedabad match a memorable one for the players and fans and with the kind of security in place for the match here, it is too expected to go off smoothly.

As in the previous matches, the pitch at the IPCL Stadium too was unlikely to provide any assistance to the bowlers and was expected to be a high scoring affair.

Indian skipper Saurav Ganguly will be hoping to win the toss and put the opposition in to bat as his team has chased well in the last two matches.

In fact the confidence of the Indian team is such that it seems India can chase any total with the way the batsmen have delivered in crunch situations.

But Ganguly would like his new-ball attack to be more disciplined and provide early breakthroughs this time and would prefer to restrict the suddenly-aggressive new-look visitors to around 270 or 280 runs.

Paceman Javagal Srinath has bowled his heart out in the last three ties but he is yet to get good support from the other end so far.

A lot would also depend on the spin duo of Harbhajan Singh and Murali Kartik who did well in controlling the run rate in the previous match.

Part-time bowlers — Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh will have to pull their act together and bowl a tighter line to give more bowling options to Ganguly who himself can play the role of utility bowler.

The revelation of the Ahmedabad match - Sanjay Bangar - has raised expectations after his match-winning performance with the bat and will feel the pressure when he comes out in the middle on Monday.

Ganguly will also be hoping to give his team a solid start along with his opening partner Sehwag who has developed a reputation of tearing the opposition attack apart once he survives the initial overs.

India will have to match the West Indies in exploiting the first 15 overs to the hilt the way Chris Gayle and Wavell Hinds have done. Gayle has been really unrelenting in his onslaught on the hapless Indian bowlers and India must think of ways to find the chink in his armour and send him back to the pavilion before he gets into the plundering act.

The Indian middle order seems stable at the moment with V V S Laxman, who helped himself to a useful 66 runs at Ahmedabad and vice-captain Rahul Dravid with a century under his belt, lending solidity.

Though youngsters Yuvraj Singh and Mohammed Kaif failed to click, Bangar showed there were more than one match-winners whom India can rely upon.

With even Kartik, Harbhajan and Srinath capable of some big hitting, India's batting line looks more than adequate.

The visitors too are likely to make one change from the playing eleven which did duty at Ahmedabad. Leg spinner Mahendra Nagamoottoo, who failed to impress in the previous match, was likely to make way for either Cameron Cuffy or Corey Collymore.

West Indies were also hit by injury scares to in-form Marlon Samuels and fast bowler Vasbert Drakes. However, their exact injury was not known and it was not clear whether they would be available on Monday. Drakes' availability would be crucuial for the side as he has performed well alongwith strike bowler Mervyn Dillon.

As far as statistics go, the visitors have won the only match they played on this ground against India way back in 1983 while India's highest total on this wicket is 283 for six against South Africa in 1999.

Teams (from):

India: Saurav Ganguly (captain), Virender Sehwag, V V S Laxman, Rahul Dravid, Yuvraj singh, Mohammed Kaif, Sanjay Bangar, Harbhajan Singh, Murali Kartik, Javagal Srinath, L Balaji, J P Yadav, Ashish Nehra, Dinesh Mongia and Parthiv Patel.

West Indies: Carl Hooper (captain), Wavell Hinds, Chris Gayle, Ricardo Powell, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Ridley Jacobs, Mervyn Dillon, Vasbert Drakes, Pedro Collins, Corey Collimore, Cameron Cuffy, Mahendra Nagamootoo, Darren Ganga, Ryan Hinds and Marlon Samuels.

Umpires: Asoka de Silva (SL), A V Jayaprakash (Ind).

First Published: Nov 17, 2002 13:31 IST