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Dhoni doubtful for third ODI due to sore back

Last updated on: January 5, 2013 21:54 IST

Dhoni doubtful for third ODI due to sore back

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Licking the wounds of yet another series defeat, India's struggling cricketers will seek to restore some pride when they go into the last One-dayer against arch rivals Pakistan in New Delhi, on Sunday with their captain M S Dhoni being a doubtful starter because of a sore back.

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The collective failure of the top order batsmen even in home conditions has hurt the team badly in recent times and the hosts will need a huge spark of inspiration to prevent the spirited Pakistanis from achieving a 3-0 clean sweep.


Image: MS Dhoni
Photographs: Reuters

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If at all somebody is doubtful, it's me: Dhoni

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Dhoni's injury has compounded India's misery and the team management will wait till Sunday before taking a final decision on his availability for the match. Wicketkeeper-batsman Dinesh Karthik has been called up as a back-up.

"If at all somebody is doubtful, it's me. I have a sore back and we have called Dinesh Karthik as back up", Dhoni said.

Yuvraj Singh also skipped the practice session but Dhoni made it clear that there were no injury problems with him.

"Since it was an optional practice session, Yuvraj did not come," he said.


Photographs: Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters

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Dhoni, at a loss to explain the team's repeated failures

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Clearly, the pressure will be on the Indians who have been plagued by an inexplicable form slump of their star batsmen while the limited and inexperienced bowling resources have compounded the misery for the hosts who have now sunk to a new low with the recent debacles.

With the series already out of their grasp, the Indians may experiment by giving a chance to some of their bench players but whether they can change the team's sliding fortunes remains to be seen in a day-night game which will start at noon to neutralise the dew factor.

Dhoni, in good form with the bat, has been at a loss to explain the repeated failures and there have been suggestions that he should promote himself up the order considering the poor form of the top half.

The hosts lost the first game in Chennai by six wickets and the second in Kolkata by 85 runs to give their arch foes their first series win on Indian soil since 2004-05.

Unless the Indians put up a far better display, the Ferozeshah Kotla could be a witness another drubbing for the struggling hosts.


Photographs: Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters

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Rahane almost certain to feature in the playing eleven

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Ajinkya Rahane, who has surprisingly not played a single match despite his decent showing in the two T20 games prior to the ODI series, is almost certain to feature in the playing eleven on Sunday.

The two experienced openers -- Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir -- have invariably failed to give a good start and that has hurt the team badly.

The Indians may contemplate benching either Sehwag or Gambhir and let Rahane open the innings.

The form of Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina has been patchy and none of them have shown consistency nor have they shouldered the responsibility.

In the absence of retired greats like Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid, the experienced players in the team have not shown the willingness to take the batting load.


Image: Ajinkya Rahane
Photographs: Gareth Copley/Getty Images

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'We are going through a tough period but we field the best eleven'

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Dhoni has acknowledged time and again that the batting has let the team down.

"When you lose, you feel bad. When we bat well, we don't bowl well, if we bowl well, we don't bat well. We have talent but we have to perform together," Dhoni said.

"It's important to back players. Yes, we are going through a tough period but we field the best eleven. If we go by criticism or by media, probably we would need 30-40 teams."

"Had I put myself under such pressure, I would have broken down by now," he said.


Photographs: Arko Datta/Reuters
Tags: Dhoni

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