India v West Indies, 5th ODI, Chennai December 10, 2011

A chance to test squad strengths

Match facts


India v West Indies, December 11, Chennai
Start time 1430 (0900 GMT)

Big Picture


Virender Sehwag's record-breaking double-century in Indore could have one of two effects on Sunday's match in Chennai. Either fans will still be abuzz with the euphoria that surrounded the feat and turn up hoping for a reprise, or they will believe the zenith of the series has already been reached, and with the result decided as well will struggle to find meaning in the dead rubber.

For the India team, though, the match does hold some significance. Injuries to Praveen Kumar and now Varun Aaron, mean Vinay Kumar and Abhimanyu Mithun will both be on the plane to Australia for the Test series. In Indore, the pair bowled just eight overs between them and were taken for 71 runs, hardly the kind of form you'd want two of your seamers going to Australia in. On a Chennai pitch that has been slow and low through the year, and offered nothing for the quicks, it will be a test of both their mettle to see if they can at least get through a full quota of overs and take some confidence into the big tour of Australia.

After the thrashing in Indore, one could forgive the West Indies players if their minds were already on the plane back home. But Darren Sammy's side have repeatedly shown fight on this tour, highlighted by their performance in the third Test in Mumbai. Through the one-day series so far, West Indies have put on more runs for the last five wickets than the first five and they will believe that if the top order can come good, they can get a total that will challenge India.

Form guide


India WLWWW (Most recent first)
West Indies LWLLL

In the spotlight


There had been a bit of mystery surrounding the logic behind having Rahul Sharma in the India squad for two one-day series and a Test series without giving him a game. In Indore, there was some vindication for the selectors, who had picked Rahul Sharma despite the fact that he has only played 10 first-class games. He impressed with his ability to turn the ball even with a flat trajectory and his variations in pace, and struck three times in his first three overs. The pitch at the MA Chidambaram Stadium has kept low and will be conducive to Rahul Sharma's skiddy topspinner.

Marlon Samuels has got plenty of starts on this tour of India, but is yet to score a century since returning to international cricket after a two-year ban. His only previous ODI in Chennai was in 2007, when he scored 98 and helped West Indies win. As the most experienced batsmen in the ODI team, he will be the one West Indies rely on to turn the form of the top order around.

Pitch and conditions


Rain is always a possibility in Chennai at this time of year. While thundershowers are expected through most of next week, the forecast says Sunday will be sunny.

The pitch at the MA Chidambaram Stadium has played low and slow all year. During the World Cup, it was the most difficult of all the Indian pitches to bat on. West Indies were bowled out for 188 in their group game against India in Chennai, with spinners taking six of the ten wickets. The pitch has also produced low-scoring encounters through the IPL and Champions League Twenty20, and it could be a hard grind for the batsmen against spin on Sunday.

Team news


With the series already in the bag, India could experiment with their line-up on Sunday. Irfan Pathan will expect to be given a game but it will be difficult deciding who to leave out as Vinay and Mithun are both headed to Australia and the selectors may want to give them game time. Rahul Sharma deserves another chance after his impressive debut and R Ashwin is the local lad. Irfan could be slotted in as an allrounder, with Ravindra Jadeja being rested. Ajinkya Rahane and Manoj Tiwary are part of the squad without getting a game so far this series. Perhaps one of them could be given a chance in the dead rubber, with one of the middle-order batsmen rested.

India (probable): 1 Gautam Gambhir, 2 Virender Sehwag (capt), 3 Ajinkya Rahane/Manoj Tiwary, 4 Rohit Sharma, 5 Suresh Raina, 6 Parthiv Patel (wk), 7 Ravindra Jadeja/ Irfan Pathan, 8 R Ashwin, 9 R Vinay Kumar, 10 Abhimanyu Mithun, 11 Rahul Sharma

Darren Bravo missed the fourth ODI with a hamstring injury and it is not certain whether he will be fit for Sunday's game. Whether or not he returns, Danza Hyatt must surely make way after scoring just 62 runs in four innings in the series. Adrian Barath could replace Hyatt if Bravo does not play. Given the nature of the pitch, West Indies may opt to play two spinners, and bring Anthony Martin in for Kermar Roach.

West Indies (probable): 1 Lendl Simmons, 2 Kieran Powell, 3 Adrian Barath/ Darren Bravo, 4 Marlon Samuels, 5 Kieron Pollard, 6 Andre Russell 7 Denesh Ramdin (wk), 8 Darren Sammy (capt), 9 Ravi Rampaul, 10 Kemar Roach/ Anthony Martin, 11 Sunil Narine

Stats and trivia

  • Virender Sehwag has never scored back-to-back centuries in ODIs. Seven of his 15 one-day hundreds have been succeeded by single-digit scores.
  • Out of the four ODIs played at Chepauk this year, three have been won by the side batting first. The average second-innings total in matches that the team chasing lost is 193.

    Quotes

    "I have been interacting with Eric Simmons [the India bowling coach] regarding variations and that has helped me a lot. I am also learning a lot while playing alongside Ashwin. It looks like a turning track. I would definitely like to do well again and ensure a 4-1 series victory for us."
    Rahul Sharma expects the Chepauk pitch to assist his bowling

    Dustin Silgardo is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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