India look to wrap-up series

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> India will be looking to wrap up the one-day series when they face Pakistan in the fourth match of the Indian Oil Cup at Gwalior on Thursday.

Updated: November 15, 2007 15:33 IST
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India will be looking to wrap up the one-day series when they face Pakistan in the fourth match of the Indian Oil Cup at Gwalior on Thursday.

The hosts lead the five-match series 2-1 and the Indians are favoured to seal the series in the day-night encounter at this happy hunting ground for the home side. India have won six out the eight ODIs they have played here so far.

The match is expected to be a run feast and the captain winning the toss would have little hesitation in batting first to set a stiff target for the opposition.

The onus, as always, will be on the experienced opening pair of Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar to give India a good start on a perfect batting strip.

With controversy brewing over the phasing out of the three senior players, it is time for Ganguly to prove his detractors wrong yet again. The former India captain has scored 39, 6 and 39 so far in the series and will be looking for a big knock on Thursday.

Ganguly will have fond memories of this ground as he had smashed 153 against New Zealand in 1999-2000.

Tendulkar has already scored a composed 99 in the second ODI at Mohali where India lost.

With the pitch expected to be perfect for batting, Virender Sehwag is likely to get a look in as his gentle off-spin may also come in handy if the home side bowls under lights.

Sehwag, making a comeback to the national team, played only the second ODI when he scored 25.

India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and vice-captain Yuvraj Singh are in fine nick, making their presence felt in the middle order.

Pakistan composition

It remains to be seen whether the home side play seven batsmen and rely on part-timers to fill the fifth bowler's quota or go into the game with five specialist bowlers.

The Indian new ball bowlers have proved a trifle expensive in the three ODIs so far. There will be little margin for error on Thursday as Pakistan must win to stay alive in the series.

The pressure is obviously on Pakistan. They have not seen much success of late, having lost the Twenty20 World Championships final to India and then going down at home in both the Test and ODI series to South Africa.

Pakistan's batting has failed to click, barring the odd individual performance. Skipper Shoaib Malik has scores of 2, 25 and 12 so far and it would be a real test of character for the young Pakistan captain to lead from the front.

Malik has always enjoyed playing against India - two of his five ODI hundreds and eight of his 23 half-centuries have come against them. Before the series, Malik averaged 47.22 against the Indians and 55.75 in the 13 matches that Pakistan won.

Salman Butt, Younis Khan and Mohammed Yousuf have posted big scores in previous games but in different matches and will need to perform together if they wish to take the series to the decider in Jaipur.

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