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India hoping to clinch series in Bangalore

November 22, 2008 17:41 IST

After three straight victories, India will seek to clinch the series by going for the kill in the fourth one-day international against England in Bangalore on Sunday with a batting line-up strengthened by the return of master batsman Sachin Tendulkar.

India need to win just one more match to wrap up the seven-match series and Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his bravehearts will be eager to maintain their winning sequence in the floodlit encounter at the M Chinaswamy stadium.

The visitors, on the other hand, have been left with the daunting task of winning four matches in a row to clinch the series and it appears extremely unlkely that they would be able to stop the Indian juggernaut.

The return of Tendulkar has no doubt made the Indian batting line-up more formidable but it would also force the hosts to tinker with the batting order.

Tendulkar was rested for the first three matches of the series after playing in all the four Tests against Australia and it remains to be seen whether he will open the innings with Virender Sehwag.

It will be a tough decision for the Indian team management as making Tendulkar open the innings would mean tinkering with the highly successful opening pair of Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir.

If Tendulkar opens, the left-handed Gambhir, who is in very good form, may come in to bat at the number three slot.

For Tendulkar, it will be his first one-dayer in eight months having played his last match against Australia in Brisbane in March this year.

The champion batsman gave glimpses of his vintage form in the recent Tests series against Australia and will be keen to make his presence felt after the short break.

The Indian selectors have also brought back paceman Irfan Pathan into the ODI squad but it appears unlikely that he would get a chance to play with Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma and Munaf Patel dishing out impressive performances in the first three matches of the series.

The form of Yuvraj Singh, who has cracked two centuries already, has been the heartening feature of the Indian batting line-up and the hard-hitting middle order batsman will have to fire again if the hosts want to clinch the series on Sunday itself.

It has been smooth sailing for the hosts so far in the series but India can't afford to relax and must guard against complacency.

On other hand, there is a lot at stake for the visitors, who need more than an inspirational performance to turn things around in the series.

England have a predominatly pace-oriented attack which has not made much of an impact on the slow tracks.

Captain Kevin Pietersen is likely to retain the spin duo of Graeme Swann and Samit Patel to not only stem the run flow but also get the wickets of the Indian batsmen who are known to be good players of spin, particularly at home.

England's batting has also been quite disappointing with none of the top order batsmen being able to get the big knocks. It's a crunch time and there is no denying that it's a make-or-break situation for the visitors.

The time has come for England's bowlers to innovate, readjust quickly, bring some variations in the attack and get a spark or two to check the Indians who are in full flow.

The desperate and struggling tourists, hard-pressed as they were, would also look to stop their tormentor Yuvraj, whose batting and bowling have been a nightmare of a kind for them.

England can, however, take comfort from the fact that the third match at Kanpur was not a loss of face after two heavy defeats in the first two one-dayers.

They may feel that the team was done in by the Duckworth-Lewis system in Kanpur and may have robbed it of a win, but the fact remains that Dhoni's men were also fancying their chances as it was an achievable target.

What would make things a bit more difficult is that unlike the first three matches, Sunday's fixture is a day-night affair and the pitch is once again promising to be a batting paradise.

"It's a sportive wicket, which should assist the batsmen more than the bowlers. The ball will come on to the bat nicely although the first session might help some bowlers," said pitch curator Narayan Raju.


India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, Yusuf Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma, Munaf Patel, Virat Kohli, Pragyan Ojha, Irfan Patel.

England: Kevin Pieternsen (captain), Ian Bell, Matt Prior, Owais Shah, Paul Collingwood, Ravi Bopara, Andrew Flintoff, Samit Patel, James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann.

Hours of play (IST): 2 pm to 5.30 pm, 6.15 pm to 9.45 pm.

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