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Uthappa and R.P. Singh set to play in final ODI

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RELAXED TIMES: Robin Uthappa, Virender Sehwag, Piyush Chawla, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and R.P. Singh have a light moment on the eve of the third and final ODI against Bangladesh in Chittagong on Monday. Photo: AFP
RELAXED TIMES: Robin Uthappa, Virender Sehwag, Piyush Chawla, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and R.P. Singh have a light moment on the eve of the third and final ODI against Bangladesh in Chittagong on Monday. Photo: AFP

Vijay Lokapally

  • Zaheer Khan to be rested
  • Ashraful down with viral fever, may miss the match

    CHITTAGONG: After overnight rains, it is for the ground staff at the Bir Shrestha Shahid Ruhul Amin Stadium to swing into action and get the ground in shape for a contest to be held there on Tuesday.

    With India having sealed the series 2-0, there is little interest left in the final one-dayer here, except the opportunity for a few to make their presence felt on the field.

    The likes of Robin Uthappa and R.P. Singh would welcome even a truncated match since both have craved for a chance in conditions that would enable them cement their places in the squad. Uthappa, will bat at No. 3 and RP, striving to create an impression, will replace Zaheer Khan.

    Uthappa and RP are set to return home along with Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Dinesh Mongia and Piyush Chawla.

    They will be replaced by Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, V.V.S. Laxman, Anil Kumble, Rajesh Pawar and V.R.V. Singh for the two Tests.

    Sreesanth still out

    Speedster S. Sreesanth continues to be unavailable due to injury.

    "We are monitoring Sreesanth's fitness. He won't recover for tomorrow's match, but we are trying our best to make sure that he recovers for the first Test. There is not much gap also, so we will try our best. In these conditions, we will make sure that he is fully fit before he plays," said skipper Rahul Dravid.

    Gambhir has distinguished himself with a century while Sehwag has looked a mere shadow of the feared batsman that he has come to be known as.

    Dravid is convinced Sehwag is a step away from breaking free from the shackles of self-doubt that have dogged his cricket in the season gone by.

    Inconsistency and poor shot selection have added to Sehwag's misery and runs have not come his way despite some early sparks in the two innings that the `explosive' opener has played thus far on the tour.

    Dravid defended him, "Definitely for someone of Sehwag's calibre we truly believe that he should go all the way and play bigger innings.

    "He is getting the starts but he is not carrying on. That is definitely something we know that Sehwag should do. Sehwag himself knows that he must start converting those starts into meaningful contributions for the team."

    Settling down

    The Indians have settled down nicely into the scheme of things that coach Ravi Shastri has drafted, even if for a short-term basis.

    The appointment of a new coach a week from now would mean new ideas and new approach but Dravid and Shastri have set new goals for the team, beginning with dominance of the remaining part of this tour.

    The support staff has had variable work to do. Robin Singh has not had much time to conduct fielding drills but has concentrated on details like specific spots for specific players to explore, the emphasis being on catching positions while Venkatesh Prasad has been made the `net' in-charge, a role that keeps him occupied and he seems to be enjoying the responsibility.

    The Bangladesh camp was hit by the news on Monday morning that Mohammad Ashraful had been hospitalised due to viral fever. His absence would be felt if he is not able to make it.

    The fate of the match itself is in serious doubt due to the inclement weather.

    Heavy rain on Sunday night and Monday morning left the ground slushy and the Indians were forced to train indoors.

    Protest

    The stadium, named after a legendary freedom fighter from Mukti Bahini that played a major role in Bangladesh's war for liberation, was witness to a dramatic demonstration last year when a photographer was beaten by some policemen, leading to cricket writers parking themselves on the pitch on the first day of the Test against Australia, an act unprecedented in the history of the game.

    The forecast for Tuesday is bleak as far as cricket is concerned. The drainage system at the stadium does not raise much hopes of a prompt start unless the sun breaks out in all its resplendent glory.

    Not that the Indians are complaining. Left to them they would opt to stay in the rooms and wait for the Test that starts on Friday. With the exception of Uthappa and RP, of course!

    The teams (from):

    India: Rahul Dravid (captain), Gautam Gambhir, Robin Uthappa, Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, Dinesh Mongia, Ramesh Powar, M.S. Dhoni, Dinesh Karthik, Munaf Patel, R.P. Singh and Piyush Chawla.

    Bangladesh: Habibul Bashar (captain), Shahriar Nafees Ahmed, Tamim Iqbal Khan, Aftab Ahmed, Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mashrafe Bin Mortaza, Mohammed Rafique, Abdur Razzak, Syed Rasel, Javed Omer, Shahadat Hossain Rajib and Farhad Reza.

    Umpires: Asoke de Silva and Enamul Haque; Third umpire: A.F.M. Akhtaruddin; Match Referee: Roshan Mahanama.

    Hours of play (IST): 9 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. and 1.15 p.m. onwards.

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