Broken India look to save face in dead rubber


New Delhi, Jan 5: One thing is abundantly clear – India no longer boast any home advantage. Having lost the Test series to England, drawn two short Twenty20 series and then surrendering this ODI series to Pakistan, the hosts are now staring at a total blackout ahead of the final match in Delhi on Sunday.
A consolation victory is all India can now aim for at the Feroz Shah Kotla, where excessively chilly conditions will assist the seam bowlers early in the match. With a far superior bowling attack which has shredded India’s top order in consecutive matches, completing a clean sweep of their old rivals is a serious possibility for Misbah-ul-Haq's team.
Pakistan's 85-run win at Eden Gardens – which extended their dominance over India to 4-0 at the storied venue – decided the series and consigned the final fixture to dead-rubber status. However, as is the case with such types of matches, there remain a number of individual narratives to follow. Can India avert 3-0? Will they stick with an aging Virender Sehwag? Is there anything MS Dhoni can do in the field to inspire this crocked team? Can Nasir Jamshed make it four centuries in a row against India?
Avoiding humiliation should act as a motivator for India. If the thought of preventing their second bilateral series whitewash – the last was 5-0 to West Indies in 1983-84 – at home does not inspire this team, then there is little hope for the future. India should be desperate for an authoritative performance to set them up for the five-match series against England starting January 11, but they have several worries not least on the batting front.
Neither of the openers has made an impression in the series, while woeful batting efforts from Yuvraj Singh, Rohit Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja has left the middle order decidedly flimsy. Last year's sensation Virat Kohli has failed in both innings to pile on the misery, leaving Dhoni to shore up the innings. Dhoni has done so with unbeaten innings of 113 and 54, though that second knock did little but inflate the captain’s batting average.
With his place in the squad to face England in doubt, Sehwag may be dropped and Ajinkya Rahane sent to open with Gautam Gambhir. The local boy has also endured a poor series, bowled in both innings. India need players they can rely on for the England series, and currently Sehwag and Gambhir don't look reliable.

Lastupdate on : Sat, 5 Jan 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 5 Jan 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 6 Jan 2013 00:00:00 IST

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