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Updated: December 26, 2009 20:10 IST

India hope to sign off in style

PTI
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With the series in the bag and a demoralised Sri Lanka at their disposal, India will be hoping to sign off on a winning note in the fifth and final cricket ODI here on Sunday.

As the fate of the series was sealed at Eden Gardens and holiday spirit is in the air, players from both sides would have to find some motivation for Sunday’s tie, which has been reduced to one of mere academic interest.

Leading the Indian side in absence of regular skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni — who served a two-match ban — Virender Sehwag wanted to seal the issue in Kolkata itself for he was not sure of the track at Ferozeshah Kotla.

Having achieved that, the home side can now let their hair down and experiment with the playing XI.

Having missed the last two one dayers, Dhoni is back in the side again, and for him tomorrow’s match would be a dress rehearsal for the tri-series in Bangladesh next month.

Overall for the Indian team, it would be yet another opportunity to assert their superiority over the islanders, who, along with the hosts, would compete in the Bangladesh tri-series.

India’s success story in this series has been scripted by the blazing blades of their batsmen and the trend is likely to continue tomorrow.

Even in absence of proven match-winners like Dhoni or Yuvraj Singh, India’s batting has looked in apple-pie order and the fourth ODI in Kolkata amply displayed the innate strength of the team.

At Eden Gardens, Sri Lanka did nearly everything right.

The islanders put on 315 on the board and prised out the prize scalps of Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar inside 23 runs and could not be faulted for believing they had taken the upper hand in the do-or-die match.

However, with the way Gautam Gambhir and Virat Kohli batted, it never looked like India was ever in a hole at that stage.

They were quick to assign roles — Kohli being the aggressor and Gambhir the accumulator — and played with a clear purpose — first to prop up the innings and then put the chase back on track without taking too many risks.

It was such a clinical chase that would lead India into believing that they can now win from any position.

Of the four matches so far, the opening pair of Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar have given the team a flying start, which made things easy for the subsequent batsmen.

Tomorrow’s match offers an opportunity for Sehwag to sizzle in his home ground and the swashbuckling right-hander would be keen to put behind the disappointment of Eden Gardens, where he perished in the second over.

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