| Captain Sourav Ganguly hopes Sachin’s return would be a boost
Wellington: A demoralised Indian team, beaten in the two Tests as well as the first four ODIs, will look for a confidence-boosting win in Wednesday’s fifth one-day International against New Zealand, its prospects having been bolstered by the return of Sachin Tendulkar.
Skipper Sourav Ganguly insisted there was still a lot left for his team to play for in the remaining matches, most important being the need to return to winning ways ahead of the World Cup.
“There is still a lot to play for in the three ODIs. We have got the World Cup ahead and must get back to the winning streak which we had last year,” Sourav said.
The return of Sachin will see India fielding a full-strength side after a long time and both spinners Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh have been included in the XII for Wednesday’s game.
“We are going to play to our strength. We are going to play the team which has won us games in the past,” Sourav said.
The captain has also decided to come back to his regular batting slot and open the innings with Virender Sehwag with Dinesh Mongia, Sachin and Rahul Dravid to follow.
“We have to make sure we don’t lose early wickets. We have to stay till the end and look to bat 50 overs, which we have not done,” said Sourav, listing the priorities of his team. “The important thing on these wickets is to get a total of 160 to 200 which can be a winning total considering the New Zealand batsmen have not had much runs under their belt.”
The Indians were also pleased that turf manager Trevor Jackson had prepared a batsman-friendly pitch for Wednesday’s game. Jackson said the pitch was drier than normal and would have medium bounce.
Injured Oram out
Meanwhile, New Zealand allrounder Jacob Oram is out after breaking a little finger at practice Tuesday. Oram’s replacement in the squad of XII is Chris Cairns, who is being pushed into the side earlier than planned after recovering from two knee operations this year.
Chairman of selectors Richard Hadlee said if Cairns was chosen to play in the XI, he would not be required to bowl.
Thus, New Zealand were also welcoming a few stars in their team. Apart from Cairns, fast bowler Shane Bond is all set to play.
Bond, who suffered from a side strain after playing in the first game in Auckland, is fit to have a bowl against the Indians while Chris Harris, named in the World Cup squad, also gets a game Wednesday after being the 12th name in the previous match in Queenstown.
Meanwhile, the sale of tickets for Wednesday’s game has not picked up at all after India’s disappointing show. NZC has decided to lure spectators by offering a free children’s ticket with every adult ticket bought.
India: Sourav Ganguly (captain), Virender Sehwag, Dinesh Mongia, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Yuvraj Singh, Mohammad Kaif, Harbhajan Singh, Anil Kumble, Jawagal Srinath, Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra.
New Zealand: Stephen Fleming (captain), Nathan Astle, Matthew Sinclair, Scott Styris, Chris Cairns, Chris Harris, Brendon McCullum, Andre Adams, Kyle Mills, Daniel Vettori, Shane Bond, Daryl Tuffey.
Umpires: Daryl Harper (Australia) and Brent Bowden (New Zealand). Third Umpire: Doug Cowie (New Zealand).
Match Referee: Ranjan Madugalle (Sri Lanka).
Match timings (IST): 6:40 am to 10:10 am and 10:50 am till close of play.