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India looking for ODI series whitewash

Today's India-SL ODI is like a box of chocolates, writes Akshay Sawai.

india Updated: Nov 06, 2005 13:35 IST

Had Forrest Gump been previewing Sunday's fifth One-day International between India and Sri Lanka here on Sunday, he might have said, "This game is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you gonna get."

That is because there is no telling what combination India, the series already in their bag, will take to the Sardar Patel Gujarat Stadium field for the day-night encounter. Likewise with Sri Lanka.

“We haven't even decided the 13 yet,” Indian coach Greg Chappell said after net practice at the stadium premises on Saturday evening. "One of our objectives is to give everyone an opportunity in the next few games, if not THE next game. You always want a good number of players to be ready for a challenge. You cannot rely on a pool of 12 or 13 players."

The net practice did not offer too many clues either. Almost all players were in the thick of it. In fact, fast bowlers Sree Santh and RP Singh, by being the first to bat in the nets, inspired jokes that they would open the batting for India.

There was speculation that Sachin Tendulkar will be rested on Sunday. But he had a full, vigorous net session, not to mention an animated discussion with opening partner Virender Sehwag where the subject was obviously batting.
Asked about Tendulkar, Chappell stuck to his original line, saying, "We haven't taken a decision." There was little grass on the wicket, which went under plastic covers around 6.30 in the evening. Chappell said it looked like a good pitch and India were inclined to bat first if they won the toss.

"That said, I am not a big fan of going by a wicket's appearance the previous day," Chappell said. "So don't hold me to ransom if we decide to bowl."
India will have to find a balance between continuing with a winning unit and experimentation. Because, as Chappell said, the team did not want to lose the edge. "The guys are keen to keep the momentum going," Chappell said.

"Especially with another series coming up against South Africa. We would want to start that contest in winning form."

Opener Virender Sehwag also met the press on Saturday. He said he had failed to get a big score in the series despite making good starts because he was being too positive in limited-overs cricket.

"In Tests, I am more in control since there is no time pressure," Sehwag said. "In one-dayers, however, I feel every scoring opportunity has to be utilised. That sometimes leads to a dismissal. But I am playing well and it is only a matter of extending the time I spend at the crease before I get a big one. And I hope that happens tomorrow."

Sehwag also spoke about the roles given by Chappell to team members before a series.

"Each one of us is given responsibilities and we are meeting them," Sehwag said.
Sehwag's opposition counterpart, Sri Lankan vice-captain Mahela Jayawardene, said the team aspired to win the next three matches. "We will look at this as a three-match series from now on and push ourselves to the limit," Jayawardene said. "That will help us get some momentum for the Tests (from Decmber 2).

Jayawardene added, "In the last two games, I thought the guys performed really well. We almost won the last game before Raina and Dhoni took it away. We're lacking that final blow, the killer instinct. But as a team everything is coming together and we hope to win in the last three games."

Like India, Sri Lanka did not announce the 13. Meanwhile, public interest in the game seems moderate. While the cheaper tickets were sold, those costing upwards of Rs 800 were easily available at the counter. But the seats could fill up given that the match is being played on a Sunday.

Teams (from) India: Rahul Dravid (captain), Virender Sehwag (vice-captain), Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh, Venugopal Rao, Suresh Raina, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Harbhajan Singh, Murali Kartik, Irfan Pathan, Ajit Agarkar, JP Yadav, Sree Santh, Gautam Gambhir, Rudra Pratap Singh.

Sri Lanka: Marvan Atapattu (captain), Mahela Jayawardene (vice-captain), Sanath Jayasuriya, Kumar Sangakkara, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Upul Tharanga, Thilan Samaraweera, Chaminda Vaas, Upul Chandana, Farveez Maharoof, Russel Arnold, Dilhara Fernando, Muttiah Muralitharan, Dilhara Lokuhettige, Nuwan Zoysa.
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First Published: Nov 05, 2005 15:15 IST