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India opt for five-pronged bowling attack

Ramesh Pawar is almost certain to figure in the playing eleven alongwith Harbhajan Singh.
None | By Sirshendu Panth (PTI), Cuttack
PUBLISHED ON JAN 23, 2007 06:53 PM IST

India would go into the second cricket one-dayer against the West Indies on Wednesday with a five-pronged bowling attack, seeking to maintain their winning momentum on a track which is likely to assist slow bowlers.

Encouraged by the form of the top order batsmen, the Indian thinktank has decided to draft in an extra bowler in Ramesh Pawar who is almost certain to figure in the playing eleven alongwith Harbhajan Singh.

The young Suresh Raina has been left out of the 12 shortlisted for the match with Haryana all-rounder Joginder Sharma taking his place for the day-night encounter at the Barabati Stadium.

It could then be a toss-up between S Sreesanth and Sharma for a place in the final XI for a game in which a victory would give India an unbeatable 2-0 lead.

Skipper Rahul Dravid justified the exclusion of Raina while stating that the final combination would be decided after having a look at the pitch on Wednesday.

"We have decided on the 12 after looking at the condition and opted for the extra spinner," Dravid said.

"We decided to give him (Raina) a break as we want to play the extra spinner and extra bowler. It is more vital for us in this condition."

The Indians finally arrested their sequence of defeats in ODIs in the opening tie of the four-match series in Nagpur, which would be remembered for Sourav Ganguly's remarkable comeback to the shorter version of the game.

Ganguly's electrifying 98 set the tone for the rest of the Indian batting line-up -- derided not long ago for its inconsistency and a string of poor shows.

However, the Indians can scarcely afford to let their guards down as Shivnarine Chanderpaul had nearly won the game for them from an all-lost situation on Sunday.

Also, the Caribbeans have dominated India in the recent past, winning six of the last nine one-dayers.

But the form that the frontline Indian batsmen showed and the success of the new opening combine of Ganguly and Gautam Gambhir must have gladdened the hearts of Dravid and coach Greg Chappell.

For the 'Prince of Kolkata', written off a year ago by those who matter in Indian cricket - coach Greg Chappell, the selection panel quintet as also a clutch of former captains - his return to big time cricket is now complete.

If South Africa marked the talismanic left hander's rebirth in Test cricket, Nagpur saw his royal re-entry into the ODI fold, which in turn has provided a fresh spark to India's charge towards the World Cup.

Gambhir's aggressive 69 has also earned wholesome praise, and the country's cricketing buffs would hope for another rollicking stand from the opening duo.

For under-pressure wicketkeeper-batsman Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the cracker of an innings that he played two days back could not have come at a better time.

With there being much talk of the selectors falling for the batting qualities of second wicket-keeper Dinesh Kaarthick, the Nagpur innings was a reply firm enough to silence his critics. 

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