From the hills of Guwahati where rains followed by the rage of disappointed fans put a dampener on this ODI series it is onto the industrial city of Jamshedpur in Jharkhand for the sixth ODI. The major talking point was the heat, which had already soared to a sizzling 44 degrees centigrade with no let-up predicted for the next 48 hours. With the series settled a fair while back, it is time for the teams to give some players rest while letting others have a game.
Respite for Flintoff?
If anyone deserves rest it is Andrew Flintoff. He has done the hard yards more than any player this series, doing the job for England with bat and ball. What's more, being the captain he has not really had a chance to switch off mentally at any point and that could take its toll. He was due to be rested in Guwahati, and with that game not getting under way he would have had a chance to put his feet up, and it has now been five days since he last played, at Kochi, so the team could well be tempted to play him in this game. After all, they are yet to register a win in this series.
Heat and dust
The most drastic contrast in conditions for the series has hit both teams. Where Guwahati was wet and cool Jamshedpur is hot and dusty. This industrial town may be in the middle of summer but the interest is understandably high. Mahndra Singh Dhoni, a son of the soil if not the city, has captured the imagination of the country and this is most focussed here in Jharkhand, a fledgling state desperate to get on the map. And at the moment there can be no better symbol than Dhoni. Virender Sehwag, the stand-in captain, has indicated that Dhoni will bat up the order, and as this news spreads, interest will only be piqued further.
The washout in Guwahati has diminished India's chances of giving every member a game. The composition of the squad - six fast bowlers and only as many batsmen - means that people like RP Singh and Munaf Patel, who have not played much cricket in recent times will get a go. Between this game and the next, there are two men who will make India debuts, in VRV Singh and Robin Uthappa. India won't want to risk yet another riot by resting Dhoni here, so it will probably be Irfan Pathan who gets a break in the sixth game. Yuvraj Singh won't want to be rested, given the kind of form he is in, but he too will need to take a break at some point, and this could be it.
While India's choice of keeper is dead certain, England may have to choose between Matt Prior and Geraint Jones, who appears to have recovered sufficiently from a left quadricep strain. Although he was sporting an ice-pack on his left thigh in the practice session the day before the game, it seemed he was available for selection. But given the presence of a second specialist keeper in Prior, England could play safe and bench him beacuse the extreme heat here could prompt a relapse.
Protests in the East
To some people in some parts of India, the scoreline seems to matter little. Although India have beaten England comprehensively in the series, the cries to include Sourav Ganguly have been constant, both in Guwahati and Jamshedpur. Here fans went one step further, burning effigies of Kiran More, the chairman of selectors, and Greg Chappell, the coach, raising angry slogans demanding the two be ousted and Ganguly reinstated. One would have thought India winning would be a cause for celebration round the country.
India (likely) 1 Virender Sehwag (capt), 2 Robin Uthappa, 3 Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk), 4 Mohammad Kaif, 5 Suresh Raina, 6 Yuvraj Singh/Venugopala Rao, 7 Ramesh Powar, 8 Harbhajan Singh, 9 Ajit Agarkar, 10 RP Singh, 11 Munaf Patel.
England (likely) 1 Andrew Strauss, 2 Ian Bell, 3 Kevin Pietersen, 4 Paul Collingwood, 5 Andrew Flintoff, 6 Vikram Solanki, 7 Matt Prior (wk), 8 Ian Blackwell, 9 Gareth Batty, 10 James Anderson, 11 Matthew Hoggard.