India look for clean sweep against Lanka

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> India will be looking to improve their world rankings by maintaining a clean slate in the remaining three games of the one-day series against Sri Lanka.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:53 IST
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Having clinched the series in convincing fashion with four consecutive wins, India will be looking to improve their world rankings by maintaining a clean slate in the remaining three games of the one-day cricket series against Sri Lanka. Motivation should not be a problem for Rahul Dravid's men when they take on the Sri Lankans in the fifth match, a day-night encounter, at the Sardar Patel stadium on Sunday. The hosts went into the series as the seventh ranked team on the ICC ODI table and a series whitewash could catapult them to number four in the ladder. The Lankans have been anything but lions and have already lost their status as challengers to the throne, the unbeatable 4-0 lead taken by the Indians pushing them from the number two position to the fourth rank at the moment. Playing for pride Marvan Atapattu and Co would be essentially playing for pride from now on. One win in the remaining three matches would see them hold the number four spot, and that should be a good enough reason to push themselves hard in what are going to be otherwise inconsequential matches. The Indians, however, would be aiming to iron out the wrinkles, if there were any, in what has otherwise been a sparkling performance so far. A big score is pending from Virender Sehwag, although the Nawab of Najafgarh has come up with the starts. However, the Delhi swashbuckler has pitched in with some useful stuff with the ball. Yuvraj Singh though would feel that he has missed out on the feast that the other batsmen had relished in the series. Despite the floodlit factor, the Motera track should help the Punjab batsman come to the party. Winning combo The hosts have stuck to the same 13 in all the four matches and it remains to be seen if Gautam Gambhir and Rudra Pratap Singh get a look in on Sunday. It is an irony then that the selectors would be announcing a team for the third time in the series on Sunday, for the sixth and seventh matches to be played in Rajkot (November 9) and Vadodara (November 12). The visitors seem to be getting the batting right, the debate about Kumar Sangakkara opening the innings and Sanath Jayasuriya's lack of form notwithstanding. The bowlers, however, are yet to find their rhythm. One reason for their struggle could be that most of them are playing for the first time in India and lack of warm-up matches could be compounding their problem. Atapattu's captaincy on the field in Pune, when India wriggled out of a tight situation to successfully chase down a competitive target of 262, has come under the microscope. The return of his deputy Mahela Jayawardene, who missed the previous match as he flew back home to get married, should boost Atapattu's and the team's morale. (PTI)

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