Series in pocket, India hope batsmen hit form

India take on Sri Lanka in the last one-dayer on Friday, hoping its off-colour batsmen find their form in an otherwise inconsequential match.

updated: September 03, 2008 08:13 IST
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With the title already in pocket, a relaxed India will take on beleaguered Sri Lanka in the last one-dayer on Friday, hoping its off-colour batsmen would find their form in an otherwise inconsequential match.

With Wednesday's 46-run victory fetching India an unassailable 3-1 lead in the five-match series - ensuring their first-ever bilateral ODI series triumph against Sri Lanka - the team is upbeat, hoping to sign off in style.

The lone worry stems from the poor form of Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh and Rohit Sharma and the team hopes they too would join the party on Friday.

Though an inconsequential match allows the think-tank to tinker with the team combination, the off-colour players are expected to figure in the playing XI in an effort to help them wriggle out of their bad patch.

There, however, is no such worry with the bowlers who did an excellent job in the series. Zaheer Khan, Munaf Patel and Harbhajan Singh once again rose to the occasion on Wednesday and helped in containing the hosts with their intelligent bowling.

Another redeeming feature oflast night's match was the smart fielding by the Indians after messing it up in the previous ODI.

Experts here feel the toss was also in important aspect of the strategyand that the visitors benefitted out of it.

"The Sri Lankans also have a good batting line up. They could have scored more runs but for playing under the lights," an official remarked after last night's match.

In fact Dhoni himself admitted that the toss played a crucial role in the win as it assisted the Indian spinners in the later part of the game.

"It was a good toss to win, there was something in the wicket for the spinners and they got a lot of turn. Even the pacers did well," Dhoni said.

India could last night make up for an additional batsmen as Yuvraj played a pivotal role as the second spinner, getting two important wickets.

Sri Lankan skipper Mahela Jayawardene said the spinners were getting more turn in the end of the innings. Though only three Indian batsmen - Suresh Raina, Virat Kohli and Dhoni -came up with worthwhile contributions, the vital partnerships kept the Indians going.

Even the first Indian wicket partnership yielded 44 runs.

Dhoni was of the view that unfortunately Sri Lankans were bereft of any long partnerships that could have cost them the game.

"The toss proved crucial, it put the Indians in an advantageous position but I should say we made too many mistake along the way. There was lack of consistent partnership from the batters and that did not help the team at all," Jayawardene rued.

The Sri Lankan skipper is also concerned about the opening combination.

Replacing out-of-form Kumar Sangakkara with Malinda Warnapura at the top proved futile as the 29-year-old left-hander could not even open his account after facing 18 deliveries.

Friday's game could still be a cliffhanger as Sri Lankans were not very short of the Indian total during the last two match, losing by 33 and 46 runs respectively.

They only need a few of their star batsmen to click before they turn the corner and bridge the deficit 3-2.

India: M S Dhoni (c), S Badrinath, Gautam Gambhir, Suresh Raina, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Yuvraj Singh, Irfan Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Pragyan Ojha, Praveen Kumar, Munaf Patel, Zaheer Khan, R P Singh and Parthiv Patel.

Sri Lanka: Mahela Jayawardene (c), Sanath Jayasuriya, Kumar Sangakkara, Chamara Kapugedera, Chamara Silva, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Chaminda Vaas, Thilan Thushara, Nuwan Kulasekera, Muttiah Muralitharan, Ajantha Mendis, Mahela Udawatte, Dilhara Fernando, Jehan Mubarak and Malinda Warnapura.

Hours of play (IST): 2.30 pm to 6.00 pm and 6.45 pm to 10.15 pm.