India eyeing clean sweep as bench strength faces test

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Cuttack, Nov 25 (UNI) India would look to test its bench strength after taking an unssailable 4-0 lead in the seven-match series but would still prefer to make a clean sweep against England, which will have only pride to play for in the day-night encounter at the Barabati stadium here tomorrow.

The visitors have been outclassed in all departments by a formidable Indian team but captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has already made it clear that his side would not relax and go for a 7-0 whitewash.

Delhi batsman Virat Kohli could well get a place in the playing XI tomorrow and so could left-arm pacer Irfan Pathan.

Pragyan Ojha would also like to have a bowl in front of his home crowd but India would certainly not look to make it easy for the English team, which surprisingly cancelled its vital practice session today.

No official from the viting team even turned up to have a look at the pitch.

India, meanwhile, had an optional practice session with only few of the players like Pragyan Ojha, Suresh Raina, Virat Kholi and Rohit Sharma were seen taking field when sun lights were fading.

Their appearance somewhat made it very evident that India will field reserve players in next three ODIs including the tomorrow's encounter and give rest to seniors and regulars.

Dhoni, after leading an unprecedented sweeping over Englishmen, said the reserve players will be given chance, though maintained that efforts would be to win all seven ODIs.

On the other hand, England captain Kevin Pietersen has a lot to sort out as his team has been bashed black and blue in the series so far.

The signs were ominous for them from the very first game at Rajkot, where the visitors were handed a massive 138-run loss which was largely due to Yuvraj Singh's heroics with the bat.

However, England did manage to get close to the Indians in the last two matches but the effort was still not good enough to overpower a formidable Indian team which is on a high after the 2-0 win over Australia in a recent Test series.

Pietersen has been unable to make use of his star all-rounder Andrew Flintoff, who finally did come good in the last match at Bangalore but only for a brief while.

The English team's major problem has been its bowling which has failed to keep the star-studded Indian batting under control and apart from Flintoff none of the bowlers looked threatening.

With clear and spotless coastal sky and green top on Mahanadi end and fairly green on the other end, Barbati stadium is expected to witness a sporting cricket with good bounce from pacer, said pitch curator Pankaj Pattnaik.

A three-tier security system beginning from outside the stadium made the ground virtually a fort. The last ODI played here at the Barbati stadium was in January 2007, where India won against West Indies.

But enthusiasm among the people was tremendous as far as demands for tickets were concerned.

''We want to see Dhoni and his boys to see how they thrash off England once more,'' said a young fan, who was deprived to see England practice.

''I came here not only to see their game but also their practice and body conditioning exercise,'' he added.

About 35,000-seat capacity stadium is expected to have full house and the match would be played on the central pitch, which was being made for last nine months.


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