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Rediff.com  » Cricket » India aiming for high-five in Cuttack

India aiming for high-five in Cuttack

November 25, 2008 16:06 IST

With the series already in their pocket, India will now aim for a 7-0 whitewash in the one-day series against England as they go into the fifth game in Cuttack on Wednesday with the intention of giving some of the bench players the chance to prove their worth.

The hosts have taken an unassailable 4-0 lead but Mahendra Singh Dhoni's bravehearts are not likely to show any mercy on the visitors in the day-night contest at the Barabati stadium.

Outplayed, outpaced and out-thought, England ran for covers in all the four matches they lost though they were a trifle unlucky when Duckworth and Lewis method favoured the hosts twice.

England will play to salvage some pride, trying to start it afresh here while for India it will be time for some experiments as they plan to give an opportunity to the reserve players, who have not played a single match yet.

Delhi's Virat Kohli is expected to get a berth in the playing eleven, having played his last ODI at Dambulla in the Sri Lanka series.

Replaced with Rudra Pratap Singh, Irfan Pathan is also tipped for a comeback while Pragyan Ojha will be relishing at the prospect of getting a call to bowl his left-arm spin against the English batsmen on his home ground.

With seven victories in their last eight one-dayers -- three against Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka and four against the visitors, Dhoni has done nothing wrong so far.

Enjoying a success percentage of 57.50 -- the best among Indians who have captained in minimum of 40 ODIs -- both luck and pluck have been on Dhoni's side.

Right from the first ODI on a batting-friendly wicket at the Madhavrao Scindia ground in Rajkot where the Indian top-order, powered by an unbeaten 138 by Yuvraj Singh, deflated the hapless English attack, the hosts have outdone Pietersen and his men in every department.

At Indore too, India's batting ruled the roost recovering from an early shudder with Yuvraj Singh turning out to be England's nemesis, scoring his second century on the trot.

The England batting once again collapsed though their middle order this time proved to be little more defiant.

With elements taking the match away from England at Green Park, the Kanpur memories in the third ODI still gives a jarring effect to Pietersen where his team was scuppered by bad light.

And in Bangalore where India sealed the series, Pietersen was out-thought by Dhoni and company as the English captain's muddled thinking looked exposed.

Sticking to their rather sluggish pair of Ravi Bopara and Ian Bell, and sending the powerful Andrew Flintoff at No. 4, England yet again failed to get a good start, even when the match demanded a Twenty20 style approach.

The over reliance on Flintoff has gone the other way, as the former England captain, who led the side during their tour two years ago, looks a pale shadow of himself. Flintoff might be the hero with an average of 187 in their 4-0 clean sweep over South Africa very recently, but the Lancashire all-rounder has failed to achieve peak form in the series so far, averaging 28.50 from his four innings.

Having started the series on a negative note -- losing out their tour match to Mumbai Cricket Association just before the series began -- England's implausible claims that their Stanford stint was to prepare for the gruelling India tour was punctured very early when their side was skittled out for 98.

Their current bashing is a reminder of England's last series in India two years ago when the seven-match series was won by India with a 5-1 margin after Guwahati one-dayer was abandoned without a ball being bowled.

However, it remains to be seen whether England can make a comeback at their happy-hunting Barabati Stadium where the visitors enjoy a 3-1 win-loss record.

The newly-laid turf last hosted NKP Salve Challenger Trophy which saw low bounce with captains of all the three sides slamming the slow and low track.

There's a tinge of green on the 22-yard strip but the worrying factor for the day-night encounter in the mild cold month of November will be dew, which might trouble the side bowling second.

In any case, curator Pankaj Patnaik had suggested that the team winning the toss should look to bat first.

"It will be a sporting wicket favouring the batsmen and a target of 260 would make the match a competitive."

He further assured that unlike the Challenger Trophy, the batsmen will enjoy the bounce this time around.

Teams:

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

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

Umpires: Darel Harper, Amish Saheba; TV: SK Tarapore; Match Referee: Roshan Mahanama

Match starts: 2.30 pm IST.

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