India seeks comprehensive series win, Pakistan to play for pride

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Jaipur, Nov 17 (UNI) There is going to be no let up by India as the hosts seems to be in no mood to loosen their stranglehold, though they have already clinched the series (3-1) because for skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, there is still some unfinished agenda.

The last time he played against Pakistan in a home series, Dhoni did score a big hundred, but India were trounced 2-4 by the visitors and this time the Indian skipper will like to return the compliment.

On the other hand, nothing is going right for Shoaib Malik's men on this tour and in all departments of the game, they have fallen far behind the hosts.

For Pakistan, this is one last chance to redeem their prestige.

They will like to wrest back some of the advantage the Indians have so decisively seized. Without even a settled combination at the top, the visitors have struggled to keep up with their opponents. It is only because of the efforts of the two 'Ys' (Yousuf and Younis) that they at least managed one face-saving win.

Tomorrow's match is a dead rubber but not for the people of this pink city and the Indians will like to wrap up the series in style with an authentic victory.

The ODI series is to be followed by three-match Test series and Dhoni will like to hand over Team India's reigns to newly-appointed Test skipper Anil Kumble with a big ODI series win behind him.

This is going to be the third encounter between these two arch rivals at the Swai Man Singh Stadium. And the score is even so far as both the teams have won a match each.

Interestingly, the first ODI in this stadium was played between India and Pakistan 1983-84 which the hosts won by four wickets.

However, the visitors got their revenge when they beat India by a whopping 143 runs in the Pepsi Cup in 1998-99.

After winning and clinching the series at Gwalior, Dhoni had said he was keen to see those players who have been warming the bench in this series so far, getting a chance to play in the last game.

However, whether the team management will go for big changes remains to be seen.

Sachin Tendulkar has rolled back the years with a series of vintage innings, the best of which came at Gwalior two days ago. He may have missed a century for the sixth time in five months, but he was more than happy to set up the series deciding win.

The master blaster has been around long enough to know that crossing the threshold is but a matter of time. For Pakistan to find a way past the 'Master' -- if he does play on tomorrow -- is not going to be easy. Even the Indian captain and his deputy have been quick to cash in on Tendulkar's bowling exploits.

The Dhoni-Yuvraj Singh combo has also been a big thorn in Malik's path. In the four games in the series so far, they have put on three 100-plus partnerships and whatever early good work Pakistani fast bowlers did, they had undone that.

Part of this problem has also been some remarkably indifferent bowling by Pakistani spinners. Without Danish Kaneria -- now included in the Test squad -- they have been toothless, and their inadequacies have been even more glaringly exposed by the way Harbhajan Singh and Murali Karthik have bowled so much so that Shahid Afridi has lost his Test place.

While the Indian spinners may be used to the conditions, it is the effectiveness they have found that has unsettled the Pakistani batsmen. With the exception of Mohammad Yousuf, Younis Khan and Salman Butt, none of their compatriots have been able to play settled innings.

This city also have horror memories for Shoaib Akhtar. Almost exactly a year ago, he and pace-mate Mohammad Asif had to leave Jaipur for failing a drug test at home broke during the ICC Champions Trophy.

This time, he has been the perfect ambassador of the field, but it is on the turf that his captain will seek one last effort from him to salvage some pride before the test series starts.

Despite having lost the series Malik has asserted that the morale in the dressing room is not low. He was of the view that the track here has been lucky for them and hoped that Pakistan will end the series on a winning note.

Teams (from): India: Sachin Tendulkar, Saurav Ganguly, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Robin Uthappa, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, (captain and wk), Irfan Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, RP Singh, Zaheer Khan, Shantakumaran Sreesanth, Murali Kartik, Rohit Sharma, Praveen Kumar.

Pakistan: Salman Butt, Kamran Akmal (wk), Younis Khan, Mohammad Yousuf, Misbah-ul-Haq, Shoaib Malik (captain), Shahid Afridi, Sohail Tanvir, Umar Gul, Shoaib Akhtar, Rao Iftikhar, Abdul Rehman, Imran Nazir, Yasir Hameed, Fawad Alam, Sarfraz Ahmed.

UNI

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