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09-Dec-2010 12:00:00 GMT
India v New Zealand, 5th ODI, Chennai

Rampaging India Eye Series Cleansweep

Chennai: High on confidence after steamrolling the opposition in the first three matches before snatching an improbable win in the next, a rampaging India would look to rout New Zealand with a 5-0 series whitewash in the fifth and final one-dayer on Friday.

The young Indian side have done remarkably well in the series in the absence of senior players like Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Harbhajan Singh who have been rested ahead of the tough tour to South Africa.

A 5-0 series whitewash would be a sweet revenge for India for the 2-5 drubbing during their visit to New Zealand in 2003. It would also be a humiliating defeat for New Zealand since the two sides played each other since 1975-76.

Fortunately for cricket fans in Chennai, who have seen abandonment of matches due to inclement weather in the recent past, sun has come out brightly since Wednesday after continuous rain for the past few days.

With weather gods relenting, the ground is expected to be fully dry up and a full match appears to be on the card at the M A Chidambaram Stadium.

Most of the top-order Indian batsmen have been among runs in the series, with the exception of Murali Vijay, and one or two have raised their hands in all the four previous matches to take the side to comfortable victories.

The only time India had hiccups in the series was in Bangalore on Tuesday with the home side in trouble at 188/5 at one stage while chasing a daunting target of 316 runs.

But from the way Yusuf Pathan butchered New Zealand bowlers to single-handedly take India to a five-wicket victory with seven balls remaining, it seemed that this young side would not lose any match in this series.

Yusuf's blitzkrieg unbeaten 123 of 96 balls and useful contributions from Saurabh Tiwary (37 not out), Rohit Sharma (44) and Parthiv Patel (53) must have boosted the confidence of the side that they can go for a whitewash.

Stand in skipper Gautam Gambhir has led from the front, hitting back to back centuries to top the batting averages for four matches. Gambhir has scored 329 runs with an average of 164.50, followed by Virat Kohli (232 runs; 77.33 average).

Gambhir himself was upbeat with the chance to complete a memorable series clean sweep.

"We need to win this game. It is important. It would be good to have five wins in a row and wind up the series before heading for South Africa and it would be useful," he said.

In the bowling front though, India will have to improve upon their performance in the last ODI in Bangalore where they leaked runs at the death overs, an oft-repeated problem for the side.

Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin has done a decent job in the series so far with eight wickets from four matches though he was expensive in the last ODI. Yusuf and Yuvraj Singh have also chipped in with useful contributions with six and three wickets with the former taking 3-49 in Bangalore.

Left-arm pacer Ashish Nehra has been a bit of a let down having taken just three wickets in the four matches by conceding 197 runs. Zaheer Khan, having missed the first two ODIs due to injury, has taken two from the two matches.

For New Zealand though it has been a tough tour of India having lost the three-match Test series 0-1 and an ODI whitewash looming.

The Daniel Vettori-led side would, however, be happy with the way they had cornered India in Bangalore before a Yusuf special bailed the home side out.

New Zealand top-order batsmen fired in unison for the first time in the series in Bangalore to post 315 and Vettori would be looking for a repeat of that here if the visitors want to end their otherwise forgettable tour on a winning note.

After a much-improved show by his players in Bangalore, Vettori said he would focus on winning the last match though the series has already been decided.

"We still think we can still win matches. We will approach the game in the morrow like the way we do every game to keep motivated in not losing focus since the one-day series had already been decided," he said.

He would be looking to James Franklin, who scored a superb 98 not out in Bangalore if they want to post a big score and chase down a big target.

With the big guns like Brendon McCullum, Ross Taylor and Scott Styris coming a cropper, Franklin is the top run-getter for New Zealand in the series with 170 runs from two matches

New Zealand bowlers have not done better than their batting counterparts in the series with frontline bowlers like Kyle Mills and Tim Southee coming a cropper. Andrew McKay has been the most successful bowler with seven wickets from four matches.

Teams from

Gautam Gambhir (capt), Murali Vijay, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Saurabh Tiwary, Rohit Sharma, Yusuf Pathan, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ashish Nehra, Pathiv Patel (wk), Zaheer Khan, Praveen Kumar, Munaf Patel.

New Zealand: Daniel Vettori (capt), Martin Guptill, Brendon McCullum (wk), Jamie How, Ross Taylor, Scott Styris, Grant Elliot, Kane Williamson, Gareth Hopkins (wk), Nathan McCullum, Kyle Mills, Tim Southee, Andy McKay, James Franklin.

Pitch and conditions
The good news is that Chennai, which had heavy rains earlier in the week, hasn't seen a downpour since Wednesday. The bad news, though, is that the forecast suggests that it might rain on Friday.

Stats and trivia

  • Nehra conceded 70 runs in nine overs in the last game. It was the ninth time he had leaked more than 70 in an ODI and he holds the dubious record of doing it the most times.Three other bowlers - Waqar, James Anderson, and Naved-ul-Hasan - have given more than 70 runs seven times.
  • Yuvraj Singh took his 75th catch to dismiss Guptill in the fourth game of the series. Only six other Indians - Mohammad Azharuddin, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly, Anil Kumble, and Virender Sehwag - have caught more.

Match facts
Friday, December 10, 2010 (day/night)
Start time 14:30 local (09:00 GMT)

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