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Mission consolidation for hosts

The Indian team will have to stop Sri Lankans from posting their second successive victory in the sixth ODI.

india Updated: Nov 09, 2005 01:33 IST

The series-conquering Indian team will need to guard against two things when it takes on Sri Lanka in the sixth and penultimate one-day international here on Wednesday. Firstly, it would have to stop the determined Sri Lankans from posting their second successive victory. Secondly, it will aim at improving its unhealthy record at the Madhavrao Scindia ground, having been beaten five times in the eight matches played at this venue.

Rahul Dravid's India have clinched the series, alright. But it is a team that is known to fall from great heights in no time. Winning, like losing, is a habit. Just when India came into the groove of winning convincingly against Sri Lanka in the first four matches, the tourists showed that their superior status to India in the ICC rankings has not been for nothing.

Despite illustrious opener Sanath Jayasuriya's poor run in the series, Sri Lanka managed to pull one back in Ahmedabad two nights ago through a superb display by Tillekaratne Dilshan and fine support from Russel Arnold, proving that they were hitting the straps even if the series is dead and buried.

It is important for India to not let the Lankans on the loose. The hosts will be without their skipper Dravid on Wednesday. He is being rested, keeping in mind the gruelling season ahead. Dravid's rest should not be mistaken with the fact that he has not recovered from a bout of cramps and hamstring problems that forced him off the field during the Sri Lankan run-chase in Ahmedabad. As coach Greg Chappell said on match eve: "Dravid would have played tomorrow (Wednesday) if he had to. He is fully fit. It is just that he is being rested."

This is in keeping with the recent Indian rotation policy, which saw Sachin Tendulkar, Harbhajan Singh and Irfan Pathan being given a break from the fifth ODI. Dravid's deputy, Virender Sehwag, will captain the side in what will be his second ODI as skipper in a full game (the last being in Dhaka post World Cup 2003).

With India up 4-1, from what was 4-0, it is important for them to keep the winning run going. A 6-1 win in the series certainly has a more positive impact on the Indians when they take on the Islanders in next month's three-match Test series than what a 5-2 or a 4-3 would have.

The Indians are on a high with a new sense of oneness. Their keenness to contribute to the team's cause is evident from their body language and on the field, when the ground fielding has increased by leaps and bounds.

First Published: Nov 09, 2005 01:33 IST