Jaipur ODI: Opportunity for the untried

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/i/indpak4thodi_ap.jpg' class='caption'> The zing may be out of the five-match one-day series with India taking a winning 3-1 lead against Pakistan, but there is still a lot at stake.

Updated: November 18, 2007 16:34 IST
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The zing may be out of the five-match one-day series with India taking a winning 3-1 lead against Pakistan, but there is still a lot at stake for several players in the fifth match here on Sunday.

The last ODI of the series brings a chance to some newcomers as well as for comeback players to stake claim to be included in similar games or force the selectors to think about their permanent inclusion in the national team.

The rewards for these players in both categories would not come instantly as the two countries have already announced Test teams.

India have named the side for the first two matches and Pakistan for all three.

The fight for one or two berths on either side, if at all left unoccupied by the end of the second Test in Kolkata, will only be for the third Test in Bangalore.

Nevertheless, the likes of rookie pacer Praveen Kumar, promising batsman Rohit Sharma and pacer Sreesanth in the Indian ranks and Pakistani batsman Yasir Hameed, left-handed all-rounder Fawad Alam and batsman Imran Nazir would look forward to be involved in the action.

None of them has played a game in the series.

With the series having been decided, both countries have nothing to lose in terms of results.

It is, therefore, an ideal platform for the management of the two teams to field the untried players at the Sawai Man Singh Stadium.

Praveen's debut?

Uttar Pradesh's Praveen, who was picked after his impressive performance in the recent Challenger Trophy, can look forward to making his debut.

If the Meerut-based bowler eventually makes his debut, he will have the comfort of playing without pressure because the match result will not alter the series outcome. A good spell or two would only add to his CV.

Sharma and Sreesanth too will be itching to have a go at the Pakistanis while the seniors take the rest for a change.

Scoring seniors

Seniors like Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh and Zaheer Khan - as also young Rudra Pratap Singh - have made the biggest contributions to India's winning campaign.

Tendulkar, despite failing to score centuries twice, has emerged as the best Indian batsman with 229 runs at 57.25 - just two short of Younis Khan's impressive tally at 57.75 - in the four matches.

Yuvraj (222 at 74.00) continues to score runs almost at will and remains the side's best fielder and catcher, despite a few close misses.

Left-arm pacer RP Singh has also extended his sublime form and rhythm he discovered on the England tour.

RP Singh has emerged as the best bowler with six scalps followed by Zaheer (5) and Harbhajan Singh and Irfan Pathan (4 each).

Either RP Singh or Zaheer - or both - look like making room for Praveen to start his international campaign.

In the Pakistani camp, Nazir and Alam will be keen to play at least one match before they return home, making way for the replacements to take their place for the Test series starting in New Delhi November 22.

Nazir is also on comeback trail while Alam is trying to prove - provided he is given opportunities - that the promise he showed as a teenager was no mirage.

Akhtar may rest

Perhaps, pace spearhead Shoaib Akhtar, the most successful bowler on either side with seven wickets, can make way for Alam.

If the Pakistani management takes a purely prudent decision, both Nazir and Alam deserve to be in the XI Sunday afternoon.

After missing the entire home series against India last year, Hameed has staged a comeback but has not been able to make room for himself.

But even if Hameed is not picked Saturday he should not rue much, as he has been retained in the 15-member Test squad.

Still, if the management is seriously considering him as an opener for Tests, the 29-year-old Peshawar batsman should be given a game to warm up.

India and Pakistan have shared the spoils in their two previous meetings at this venue.

If India won the very first ODI played at the Sawai Man Singh Stadium in October 1983, Pakistan clinched the Pepsi Cup game in 1999.


India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain/wicket-keeper), Yuvraj Singh (vice-captain), Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Robin Uthappa, Irfan Pathan, Rudra Pratap Singh, Rohit Sharma, Murali Kartik, Zaheer Khan, Sreesanth, Harbhajan Singh and Praveen Kumar

Pakistan: Shoaib Malik (captain), Salman Butt, Imran Nazir, Yasir Hameed, Younis Khan, Mohammad Yousuf, Shahid Afridi, Misbah-ul-Haq, Fawad Alam, Kamran Akmal (wicket-keeper), Shoaib Akhtar, Umar Gul, Sohail Tanvir, Abdur Rehman and Iftikhar Anjum

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