| Irfan Pathan and Mahendra Singh Dhoni at the team hotel in Guwahati on Saturday. Picture by Santosh Ghosh
Guwahati: No Sachin. No Sourav. No Dravid. And it could very well be No Play in rain-hit Guwahati on Sunday.
Still, the fifth match of the now-decided seven-match one-day series for the TVS Cup ' if held at the sprawling Nehru Stadium here ' will have a significance of its own.
For probably the first time, India will be without the trio since Sourav and Dravid made their international debuts in 1996.
Though their absence and the inclement weather have left the fans of this cricket-crazy city disappointed, the Indians will be looking to keep their winning run intact. It will also be a test for the side under Virender Sehwag.
The stand-in captain, who will play his first match in the city, promised there would be no let up in their efforts, weather permitting.
“There will be no-let up in our efforts. We have divided the series into two' We have won the first and are treating the remaining matches as a new three-match series. We are here to win,” Sehwag said. He also felt there would be no problem motivating the players since the series had already been won.
While it is likely that Robin Uthappa, who has been drafted into the side as an opener, will be included, Yalaka Venugopal Rao, who has been a passenger all along, will get his first game.
Given the gloomy and wet conditions, none of the teams go through net sessions at the stadium this afternoon. Only Harbhajan Singh, among the Indian players, made a visit to the ground.
The thousands who braved the weather to have a glimpse of their heroes, were left disappointed. The city is hosting a match after nearly 29 months.
The fans also appeared to be missing Sourav, who had led India to an emphatic win the last time the Indians played here. A couple of banners on either side of the stadium screamed “Bring Back Sourav.”
The England players also made an appearance at the ground. Andrew Flintoff even indulged in some friendly banter.
The fizz, however, was missing. The reverses suffered in the one-day series appears to be taking its toll on the young but non-performing visitors. Like the weather, most of the visitors sported a glum look.
According to sources, the injured Geraint Jones’ chances of playing have diminished further. Matt Prior will then keep wickets.
Prabir Mukherjee, BCCI grounds committee member, was positive about the wicket. “There is a little bit of grass, making it a perfect one-day wicket. The rest is up to the players.
“A lot depends on the outfield. If there is another spell of rain then I think the tie is as good as over,” he said. That very well summed up the prevailing mood in Guwahati.
India (from): Virender Sehwag, Robin Uthappa, Yuvraj Singh, Mohammed Kaif, Suresh Raina, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Irfan Pathan, Y. Venugopal Rao, Ramesh Powar, Harbhajan Singh, Ajit Agarkar, Rudra Pratap Singh, Sreesanth, Munaf Patel, Vikram Rajvir Singh.
England (from): Andrew Strauss, Matt Prior, Owais Shah, Kevin Pietersen, Andrew Flintoff, Paul Collingwood, Geraint Jones, Ian Blackwell, Liam Plunkett, Kabir Ali, James Anderson, Gareth Batty, Vikram Solanki, Matthew Hoggard, Sajid Ali.
Umpires: Rudi Koertzen, A.V. Jayaprakash.
Match begins: 8.45 am.