Team India aims to finish with a flourish
A morale-boosting series win sealed, India would be aiming to finish with a flourish when they take on England in the inconsequential fifth and final cricket one-dayer at the picturesque HPCA stadium here tomorrow.
A 4-1 victory might not heal the scars of a Test series loss against the same opponents but it will surely inject a fresh lease of life in Mahendra Singh Dhoni's men ahead of their next Test assignment against Michael Clarke's Australia.
The skipper himself will certainly feel good as he is leading from the front and walking the talk of shouldering more responsibility upfront having successfully wielded his willow.
There is an old adage that 'revenge is a dish best served cold' and certainly the irony is not lost out when one considers the problems that the Englishmen faced whenever their caravan headed north – be it Delhi or Mohali.
Dhoni would certainly expect that the same script is followed to the 'T' when his side steps on to the field for the 43rd international venue in India. With the series already decided, the match is of academic interest but for the team management and the national selectors, there are a few areas that they would like to check out.
Cheteshwar Pujara has been eagerly waiting for his ODI debut and one would expect that that the talented Saurashtra batsman would finally get a chance considering that he has not been released for the high-profile Ranji Trophy final against Mumbai starting today.
Knowing Dhoni's penchant for sticking to tried and tested combinations, it will be interesting to know if the likes of Pujara and Amit Mishra, who has so far only warmed the dug-out will get a chance to be in the thick of things.
The skipper hit the 'bull's eye' with his ploy of sending Rohit Sharma as an opener and which certainly means ominous signs for Gautam Gambhir. Gambhir is one player, who would like to make it count tomorrow simply because opportunities might soon dry up for the Delhi lad.
Ajinkya Rahane may have been benched in the last match after having an indifferent start in the first three matches but the youngster is expected to get more chances in the future. If Rohit gets settled in the role of an opener and Rahane is given an extended run, tomorrow might as well be the last chance for Gambhir in the limited overs for the time being.
Suresh Raina is certainly basking in the new found glory of being a good finisher and Virat Kohli will like to play an innings like the one in Ranchi to end the series on a high.
There couldn't have been a perfect setting for the series finale as Dharamsala can be easily compared with Newlands in Cape Town or the John Davies Oval in Queenstown as one of the most beautiful cricket grounds in the world.
The temperature is perfect and with the bright sunshine beating down on the 22-yards, the batsmen are expected to do well but the open nature of the ground might help the seamers during the early part of the day.
A Bhuvneshwar Kumar might just revel in these conditions with his ability to swing the ball. Shami Ahmed, on the other hand, would like to make amends for leaking runs in the last game in Mohali.
Ishant Sharma, who is slowly and surely looking like getting into the groove, will also look to consolidate his place in the shorter format as someone responding to the name of Umesh Yadav might soon be back in action.
For the England team, they have nothing to lose and will come out all guns blazing as a 2-3 ODI series defeat would look much better than a 1-4 hammering.
It will also be time for Alastair Cook to introspect about what exactly has been wrong with the team in the shorter formats especially after excelling in the longer version.
Kevin Pietersen's 76 was a bright spot in the batting line-up while Cook will also aim to carry on from where he left in Mohali.
England's main concern, however, has been their pacers with Jade Dernbach and Tim Bresnan unable to figure out the right length to bowl in Indian conditions. Dernbach, especially has been consistently leaking runs.
The only bowler who has made some kind of impact is the lanky Steven Finn. He has extracted steep bounce and bowled in right areas to trouble the Indian batsmen consistently. In all, an exciting contest is on the cards..
India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (c and wk), Ajinkya Rahane, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Shami Ahmed, Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara Amit Mishra and Ashok Dinda.
England: Alastair Cook (c), Ian Bell, Kevin Pietersen, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan, Craig Kieswetter (wk), Samit Patel, Chris Woakes, James Tredwell, Steven Finn, Jade Dernbach, Tim Bresnan, Danny Briggs, Jos Buttler, Stuart Meaker.
Match starts at 9:30 am (IST).