Playing for a place in the side

Both India and Pakistan made four changes each to the XI that played the fourth one-day international in Gwalior and gave opportunities to all of their reserves in the dead rubber in Jaipur. Cricinfo looks at how they impacted the game.

Rohit Sharma 52 off 61 balls

"Rohit Sharma has been with the team for the last five to six months. It's hard luck that he hasn't got many chances to play. He is a class player and the moment he gets his chance he will grab it with both hands." That's what India's cricket manager Lalchand Rajput had to say about Rohit on the eve of the Jaipur one-dayer. He did not disappoint, and displayed his obvious talent but also showed signs of poor shot selection, a characteristic of inexperience. He began shakily, played a couple of flashy shots outside off stump and was beaten by Sohail Tanvir. His first flash of brilliance was an outstanding square drive off Rao Iftikhar Anjum, but he was beaten between bat and body a ball later. He tried to break the lean period by charging Umar Gul but was beaten twice in succession; when he tried to hook, Gul was too quick for him. As he began to settle down, his foot movement became more assured and he began to build some momentum with his electric pace between the wickets. Rohit's best shot came out of the blue; he nimbly moved down the pitch, picked Anjum's length early and lofted him cleanly over the long-off boundary. He was confident against the spinners, using both the width and depth of the crease, and lofted Shoaib Malik over deep midwicket. His 81-run stand with Yuvraj Singh brought India back into the match, before a reckless loft to Yasir Hameed at long-on led to a soft dismissal. Mahendra Singh Dhoni had only praise for the way Sharma approached the target of 307 and said that there was tremendous pressure on a player to perform when he was given an opportunity after a long gap.
Fawad Alam 32 off 23 balls and 0 for 56
Fawad Alam had Shahid Afridi's boots to fill in his only opportunity in the one-day series. Pakistan chose to rest Afridi and brought Alam in to play the allrounder's role. He came into bat at a crucial time, when Pakistan had lost both Malik and Mohammad Yousuf in successive overs after their partnership of 168 had laid the platform for a 300-plus total. Twenty-two-year-old Alam was billed as a Twenty20 specialist but he looked out of sorts at the start of his innings as he struggled to find his timing. As he spent more time in the middle, his pluck rose to the surface and he injected energy into the innings by scurrying between the wickets. His first aggressive shot, a pull over midwicket off Irfan Pathan, wasn't convincing but the straight six and flick through midwicket, off Praveen Kumar, certainly were. His cameo pushed Pakistan past 300, giving them a total they could defend, even with the dew.

Praveen Kumar 0 for 50 and 12
Kumar's figures don't indicate an impressive debut but the numbers conceal an excellent first spell with the new ball. Dhoni gave him the first over ahead of Sreesanth and Pathan, in the absence of RP Singh and Zaheer Khan and if, Kumar had any nerves, he hid them well. He hit a tight line and length right away and began with a maiden over to Salman Butt. He found seam movement and swing on a flat pitch and kept Butt, who has been in excellent form, and Nazir quiet. Kumar conceded only seven off his first four overs before three short and wide balls disappeared to the boundary. He was unlucky not to pick up Malik in the 35th over when a top-edged swirled over Dhoni's head and fell in no-man's land.

Imran Nazir 20 off 40 balls
Nazir will be on the flight home soon, having been dropped from the Test squad and the fifth ODI was his only opportunity to stake a claim for the second opener's slot. Nazir was Butt's fourth opening partner in this series but even he failed to make a strong impression. Tight spells by India's fast bowlers denied Nazir the freedom to cut loose. He was frequently beaten by Kumar and Sreesanth before he took advantage of Kumar's flailing line and length, towards the end of his first spell, and cut twice to the point boundary. When Sreesanth bowled a legcutter, Nazir played too early at it and offered a sharp return catch to the bowler, leaving Pakistan's opening dilemma unanswered.

Sarfraz Ahmed Two catches and a missed stumping
Sarfraz had the most to play for in the dead rubber. He had an opportunity to make an impression and tell the selectors that there were quality wicketkeepers in Pakistan besides Kamran Akmal, who has had a shocking series with the gloves. A debut against India has its own pressures and Sarfraz withstood them satisfactorily. He did not concede a bye, hardly fumbled a take and took sharp catches to dismiss Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj. His body language was confident, and he displayed urgency by changing ends quickly between overs. The only blemish was a difficult stumping against Yuvraj. Alam's delivery bounced sharply and beat Yuvraj who had charged down the pitch. The awkward height made Sarfraz take a fraction longer in breaking the stumps, allowing Yuvraj to just get his bat down in time. Malik was satisfied with his young keeper's performance. "Sarfraz came as a pleasant surprise," Malik said. "We never knew we have such a good wicketkeeper after Kamran [Akmal]. It's not easy to handle the pressure in an India-Pakistan match but he came off with flying colours."

Sreesanth 3 for 52
A serious contender for a fast bowler's spot in the Tests, Sreesanth had sat out of the first four matches. His inclusion in the dead rubber added some spice to the contest. He would undoubtedly be aggressive; the question was whether he would turn in a testing spell. His first spell from the press-box end was poor. He bowled two wides in his first over and ended it with a long-hop that Nazir pulled for four. Sreesanth often erred on the short-and-wide side and leaked 20 off his first three overs. Dhoni took him off and brought him back from the pavilion end in the 13th over and Sreesanth met with immediate success. He induced a top edge from Butt in his first over of the spell and dismissed Hameed and Butt off successive overs. He had figures of 3 for 15 in his second spell and conceded 17 off his final two, during a phase when Malik and Yousuf were accelerating in their 168-run stand.

Yasir Hameed 1 off 5 balls
Hameed is a candidate for the role of Test opener but today's game was his only opportunity for match practice on this tour. He lasted only four balls before pushing away from the body at the fifth. The ball seamed away from him, and edged to Dhoni behind the stumps. There are no warm-up games ahead of the first Test in Delhi on November 22 and Hameed, if he should open, will be severely short on match practice.

Murali Kartik 1 for 62
Kartik was superb against Australia, bowling a match-turning spell in Chandigarh and a match-winning 6 for 27 in Mumbai. Dhoni later said that he had pushed for Kartik's selection because he wanted a left-arm spinner in the team. However, the dew-factor in the day-night games against Pakistan meant that India played only one specialist spinner in Harbhajan Singh. Kartik, the third spinner in the Test squad, was given an opportunity today because Harbhajan was rested. He bowled predominantly during a difficult period, when Malik and Yousuf were in top gear. Yousuf slogged his first ball to the midwicket boundary and Malik too chanced his arm, lofting Kartik over long-on. However, when Malik tried to repeat the shot, Kartik slipped in a shorter one that spun away from him, allowing Dhoni to complete the stumping.