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4th ODI: India may risk playing Yuvraj

May 25, 2006 13:20 IST

India may risk playing Yuvraj Singh in their do-or-die battle against West Indies in Port of Spain, Trinidad, on Friday to ensure they do not lose their first one-day series in nine months.

Yuvraj, who was rested for the third match at St. Kitts because of a stiff back, is "feeling better" and team physio John Gloster does not see a problem in him taking the field to bail out the visitors, trailing 1-2 in the five-match series.

However, captain Rahul Dravid preferred to have an open mind on the issue.

"Back spasm is something about which you can't say anything with certainty," Dravid said hoping the break would have helped Yuvraj tide over the injury crisis.

Yuvraj made a valiant 93 in a losing cause in the second match before his back rendered him hors de combat in St. Kitts.

The dependence on Yuvraj is a reflection on how much experience counts in the park even though youth has been the rallying call in the recent resurgence of India.

Since India lost to New Zealand in a triangular in Zimbabwe last September, they have won 19 of the 27 games under Dravid out of which Yuvraj featured prominently in as many as 26 matches.

He scored runs in bulk -- 1,050 with three hundreds and six half-centuries -- and was feted all around for his three successive man-of-the-series awards.

India know that they need to field their best at the home ground of the West Indies captain Brian Lara, who has announced to quit the ODIs after the World Cup, and hopes his team would ride on the inevitable emotional upsurge from the stands.

The Indians are at sea, in stark contrast from the hype with which they left the shores a couple of weeks ago.

Although two losses do not call for a re-look, India are still way down in some aspects of the game, especially running between the wickets.

The run outs in St. Kitts were largely because India panicked. As the runs dried up and spinners took stranglehold, India were akin to cats on hot tin roof. It also showed on how swift and accurate a few West Indians could be across the turf.

In all likelihood, Venugopala Rao would pay the price for his forgettable day in St. Kitts. He is seen as a steady and not a flamboyant character in the dressing room but he was anything but cool on Tuesday.

If India decide on playing an extra batsman, Robin Uthappa looks to be a ready replacement for Rao. Indeed, Uthappa's presence gives India a few good options -- it could allow Dravid to come down and man the lower half of the order.

The team could even experiment by having Virender Sehwag play in the middle order since his flair could loosen the shackles in which West Indian spinners have tied the Indians up.

A win tomorrow would mean a great deal to West Indies cricket as it would be their first major series win in last 21 months.

They have played 23 matches since their triumph in the 2004 Champions Trophy in England and won only two games, discounting the series against Zimbabwe.

West Indies though would miss key batsman Shivnarine Chanderpaul who has been laid low because of a pulled groin muscle.

Runako Morton, after his scores of 23, 1 and 0, is also in the sidelines. The hosts have opted for the experience of Wavell Hinds and the exciting young talent of Sewnarine Chattergoon.

West Indies would also hope the example set by Ramnaresh Sarwan in the last two games would not be lost on the younger lot.

If the likes of Marlon Samuels and Dwayne Bravo come to the party, India could find its resources stretched to the limit.

Not to forget about a certain Brian Charles Lara who throughout his glorious career has shown that he has a sense of occasion. This one certainly is!


India: Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid (captain), Yuvraj Singh, Mohammad Kaif, Suresh Raina, Venugopala Rao, Mahinder Singh Dhoni, Irfan Pathan, Ajit Agarkar, Harbhajan Singh, Sreesanth and R P Singh.

West Indies: Chris Gayle, Sewnarine Chattergoon, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Brian Lara (captain), Wavell Hinds, Marlon Samuels, Dwayne Bravo, Calrton Baugh Jr, Fidel Edwards, Jerome Taylor, Ian Bradshaw, Correy Collymore and Dave Mohammad.

Umpires: Simon Taufel (Aus) and Billy Doctrove (WI), Third umpire: Steve Bucknor (WI).


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