|Player:||TG Southee, SR Tendulkar, PP Ojha, IK Pathan|
|Event:||India in New Zealand 2008/09|
DateLine: 13th March 2009
With India clinching the series with a game to spare, the team management may opt to rest some of their key players as they go into the fifth and final One-dayer against a demoralised New Zealand on Saturday, hoping to finish it off on a winning note. The Indians have already taken an invincible 3-0 lead in the five match series and will be keen to try out their reserve players for the inconsequential game at the Eden Park. Sachin Tendulkar, who sat out of the last game because of an abdomen injury, is likely to be rested for the match so that he is fully fit for the Test series beginning March 18.
While things have gone favourably for the Indians, the Kiwis have only pride to play for as they desperately need to salvage a win to gain some confidence and momentum before the Test series begin. However, Indian coach Gary Kirsten has already made it clear that he is looking for a 4-0 clean sweep and would like to carry forward the momentum of the ODI series to the three upcoming Tests. India are set to make some changes in their playing eleven and in all probability left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha and Irfan Pathan are likely to get a game before they return home along with Yusuf Pathan, Praveen Kumar and Rohit Sharma on Sunday.
While Irfan played in the Twenty20 series, which India lost 0-2, Ojha so far has had little to do on this tour. And this will come as an ideal opportunity for Ojha to win the selectors' confidence. A poor show in the match would provide the leeway for Ravindra Jadeja, who has the making of a competitive all-rounder, to stake a claim for the second spinner's slot in India's ODI scheme of things. The Indian team management is also likely to give Zaheer Khan, who did the bulk of the work in Ishant Sharma's injury-forced absence during the ODIs, a break before the Test series and draft in Irfan in his place. Tendulkar's participation in the final ODI also looks bleak as the team management is in no mood to aggravate his his abdomen injury ahead of the Test series. The batting maestro also missed the fourth ODI in Hamilton after suffering the injury during his majestic knock of 163 in Christchurch. If Tendulkar is rested, India will go in with Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir at the top of the order. And if the Delhi duo, who were involved in a rollicking 201-run partnership for the first wicket at the Hamilton on Wednesday, maintain their momentum, India should complete a Kiwi sweep, similar to the 5-0 drubbing they gave England last season.
The Kiwis would be eyeing a consolation win to boost their morale ahead of the Test series and skipper Daniel Vettori is determined to avoid a 4-0 drubbing in front of the home crowds. But considering the form of Indian batsmen, Vettori's men will have to produce something extraordinary to stop the marauding Indian gladiators from completing a series rout. New Zealand's bemused bowlers will have lot at stake for them in this dead rubber. A win will help them restore some credibility, Daniel Vettori had said minutes after Virender Sehwag smote his side into submission in Hamilton on Wednesday.
Not long ago, the same team was troubling the Australian batsmen in Australia. Now they look thin: Tim Southee has been dropped after he beat Martin Snedden to the second-worst figures in ODI cricket, O'Brien has been dropped and picked again but his confidence doesn't seem to have picked up, Ian Butler is injured, and Thompson has had a cruel taste of international cricket. Going by the one-dayers, Sehwag's assessment doesn't seem too far off the mark. The sooner the New Zealand bowlers lift themselves the better it will be for the contest. If they fail it could possibly turn out to be the worst debacle suffered by the Kiwis in recent times, wherein their bowlers' psyche has been demolished by some free flowing Indian batting.
India : Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Yusuf Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Praveen Kumar, Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma, Dinesh Karthik, Irfan Pathan, Pragyan Ojha.
New Zealand : Daniel Vettori (captain),Martin Guptill, Brendon McCullum, Peter McGlashan, Iain O'Brien, Jacob Oram, Jesse Ryder, Ross Taylor, Grant Elliot, Kyle Mills, Ewen Thompson, Jeetan Patel.