Fifth ODI to test bench strength

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> India, enjoying a 3-1 lead in the ODI series against Pakistan, have decided to rest pacers Zaheer Khan and RP Singh and off-spinner Harbhajan Singh.

Updated: November 18, 2007 08:40 IST
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India, enjoying an unassailable 3-1 lead in the ODI series against Pakistan, have decided to rest pacers Zaheer Khan and Rudra Pratap Singh and off-spinner Harbhajan Singh for the fifth and final match in Jaipur on Sunday.

The team's cricket manager Lalchand Rajput said at the Sawai Man Singh Stadium in Jaipur on Saturday that the team management had decided to give rest to them.

He indicated that the other senior players like Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly could still play the match ahead of an important Test series, starting in Delhi four days later.

Dead rubber

Some say it is a dead rubber but that isn't what the Indian and Pakistani teams will tell you as they prepare to take each other on in the final ODI in Jaipur on Sunday.

While India, already 3-1 up in the series will push for a clean finish, Pakistan will look to win this encounter to take the vital psychological advantage ahead of the Test series.

But with the series already decided, this perhaps is the best opportunity for both teams to test their bench strength.

Testing time

With a win under their belt, Team India can afford to rest the former skipper Saurav Ganguly now.

That will make way for young Rohit Sharma. Already the list of players to be rested for the final ODI also include Harbhajan Singh, RP Singh and Zaheer Khan.

"Now that the series has already been decided, we would like to give chance to others who have not played in the series," said Lalchand Rajput, Cricket Manager, Indian cricket team.

"With the trio being rested, you have a 12-member squad and we would decide the final eleven only after having a look at the pitch on Sunday," he added.

Rajput traced India's winning habit to the gains from the previous ODI home series against Australia.

Aussie lessons

Although India lost that series, the former India Test player felt the players gained a lot by playing against the world champions prior to clashing with Pakistan.

"The Australia series has done a world of good for us. Obviously, we have raised our game after that series," he averred.

Rajput felt that the team's fielding has also improved. "In the last four-five months, our fielding has improved. We have improved in every game," he said.

On Tendulkar getting out in 90s once again in the fourth ODI, Rajput said it was part and parcel of the game.

"Naturally, he was a bit disappointed [after getting out for 97 in the fourth ODI in Gwalior]. But he was happy that the team won the match," he said of his fellow Mumbaikar's 16th scores of 90s in 406 ODIs.

"In fact, the whole team was disappointed for him. But it is all part and parcel of the game."

Rajput, an interim appointment, will also guide the team in the three Tests starting November 22.

Shoaib to rest

The Pakistan team management has almost decided on resting Shoaib Akhtar.

Though they have several problem areas to fix but Shoaib Malik's men will play for pride in Jaipur.

"Cricket never stops, but we need to better our cricketing fortunes. We'll try our best to win the last one dayer and then make a strong comeback in the Tests," said Misbah-ul Haq of Pakistan team.

With IANS inputs

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