Jaipur: Team India, having already clinched the IndianOil Cup, will on Sunday field the trio which has not played any part so far in the ODI series against Pakistan.
“Zaheer Khan, R.P. Singh and Harbhajan Singh will be rested for tomorrow’s match,” said cricket manager Lalchand Rajput. Sreesanth, Rohit Sharma and rookie Praveen Kumar will, thus, feature in the XI in the final ODI.
Rajput, however, didn’t reveal who would sit out from the XII at the Sawai Man Singh Stadium. “Now you have the XII… I leave it to your imagination,” he quipped.
No clear picture was available till late on Saturday, but it was learnt that Sachin Tendulkar or Sourav Ganguly will sit out. Sachin was believed to be slightly unwell. In case he still manages to play, Sourav will miss out.
The team management, it seems, is unlikely to rest Sachin as he is a prime contender for the Man of the Series award. Sourav, in any case, hasn’t been among runs.
Sachin hasn’t hit a century in the four matches — his 97 and 99 breaking many a heart — but he has already lit up the series with some exquisite strokeplay.
Rajput had to tackle a barrage of questions on why Sachin was regularly falling in the Nineties. “He is going through a phase... It is a part and parcel in the life of any cricketer. There is no need to be unduly worried,” he said.
The cricket manager laughed off a suggestion that Sachin got nervous every time he approached the three-figure mark. “Don’t forget he has hit more than 75 hundreds in international matches,” he said.
“He was upset to miss the century but happy to see India win… He would like to score the next hundred as soon as possible,” Rajput said.
Pakistan, on the other hand, need a real brave performance in this land of valour to stop India from romping to a 4-1 verdict. In a dead tie, it can be difficult to motivate the players and Pakistan have a tough task at hand. A win here will act as a consolation ahead of the Test series which begins in Delhi on Thursday.
During practice on Saturday, Shoaib Akhtar attracted maximum attention. He was also the target of some sarcastic comments like, “watch your back, Sachin is coming”! During the Champions Trophy last year, the fast bowler had to return disgraced from this city after testing positive for a banned substance.
Not many have also forgotten Dhoni’s remarkable 183 against Sri Lanka here two years ago. “Play another big innings Dhoni,” screamed a young girl as the Indian skipper prepared to leave the ground after practice. The crowd roared.
Like other day-night matches, dew could be a deciding factor as it could make things difficult for the bowlers in the second innings. Batting first will be a safer option.
India (likely): Sachin Tendulkar/Sourav Ganguly, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Virender Sehwag, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Robin Uthappa, Irfan Pathan, Rohit Sharma, Murali Kartik, Praveen Kumar, Sreesanth.
Pakistan (from): Salman Butt, Kamran Akmal, Younis Khan, Mohammed Yousuf, Shoaib Malik, Shahid Afridi, Misbah-ul Haq, Abdur Rehman, Fawad Alam, Imran Nazir, Umar Gul, Shoaib Akhtar, Sohail Tanveer, Yasir Hameed and Rao Iftikar Anjum.
Umpires: Billy Doctrove and Suresh Shastri. TV: Amish Saheba.
Match Referee: Roshan Mahanama.
Match starts: 2.30pm.