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India to test bench strength in fourth ODI

February 04, 2009 14:19 IST

Having clinched the five-match series by taking an unassailable 3-0 lead, India will try out some of their reserve players when they take on Sri Lanka in an inconsequential fourth one-day international in Colombo on Thursday, seeking to notch up a record-breaking ninth consecutive win.

Although the visitors would ideally like to make a clean sweep of the series, giving an opportunity to the bench players will be their priority in the remaining two matches.

Everything has gone well for Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his men in the series and the team will be keen to keep the winning sequence going for a record ninth consecutive match.

The Indian batting has been far superior than the home team and the bowling has also been quite disciplined to bring about the desired results.

Dhoni made it clear after the third ODI on Tuesday that giving reserve players a chance to prove themselves was more important than retaining the winning squad in pursuit of their record ninth straight ODI win.

"We are not looking at the record. Rather, we will give chance to players who didn't get a chance to play in the series so far," Dhoni said.

"We are 3-0 up and have already won the series. It gives us an opportunity to play those players. For us, this is the priority. The team is not looking at the record but giving chance to those players," he said.

India humiliated Sri Lanka with a 147-run victory under floodlights at the R Premadasa stadium on Tuesday to seal the series.

Sri Lanka, however, have only pride to play for in the remaining matches which are of mere academic interest now.

The home side, who are playing non-stop cricket for last five months, will be under pressure to regroup and rediscover their winning form. Captain Mahela Jayawardene will have to ensure that his team executed the game plan well to win the next two matches and reclaim their confidence ahead of the busy season.

Jayawardene admitted his team was not up to the standard of Dhoni's India and there are some grey areas to be fixed, especially the bowling which was absolutely off the mark.

"There are certain areas we need to tighten up. Against a good opposition like India, certain things were not up to the standard," he said. "We'll definitely have a chat with the selectors now but we need our best team to win the next two matches, which is very important to get back the confidence. We have a lot of cricket ahead."

The home side's main area of concern would be their bowling after the way Farveez Maharoof and Dilhara Fernando performed in the third match returning figures of 7-0-68-0 and 8-0-63-1 respectively. Other bowlers Nuwan Kulasekara 10-0-68-0, Ajantha Mendis 9-0-64-1 and Muttiah Muralitharan (10-0-60-1) were also no better.

"I am disappointed with bowling," Jayawardene said after the match.

Besides, his main weapons Muttiah Muralitharan and Ajantha Mendis will also need to urgently find a way to stop the rampaging Indians.

For the Indians, there are really no major worries and it remains to be seen which senior players are rested for the fourth match to be played under lights at the Sinhalese Sports Club ground.

Sachin Tendulkar has fallen victim to dubious umpiring decisions for three times in a row and would be keen to make his presence felt with a substantial contribution. Yuvraj Singh and Virender Sehwag, the two centurions in the last game, could be rested along with pace spearhead Zaheer Khan who has taken a lot of bowling load in recent times.


India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain, w/k), Gautam Gambhir, Ravindra Jadeja, Zaheer Khan, Praveen Kumar, Pragyan Ojha, Munaf Patel, Irfan Pathan, Yusuf Pathan, Suresh Raina, Virender Sehwag, Ishant Sharma, Rohit Sharma, Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh.

Sri Lanka: Mahela Jaywardene (captain), Kumar Sangakkara (wk), Sanath Jayasuriya, Upul Tharanga, Chamara Kapugedera, Jehan Mubarak, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Thilina Kandamby, Muttiah Muralitharan, Ajantha Mendis, Farveez Maharoof, Dilhara Fernando, Nuwan Kulasekera, Thilina Thushara and Angelo Mathews.

Hours of play (IST): 2.30 pm to 6 pm, 6.45 pm to 10.15 pm.

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