Despite misfiring batsmen, flagging bowlers and a clueless skipper, India have to restore pride — that oft-used phrase — in the final ODI against Pakistan at the Feroz Shah Kotla ground.
However, fans may not wake up to a pleasant news. Skipper MS Dhoni is struggling with a sore back, while most of his most other teammates are fighting to stay “warmed up” in Delhi’s exceptionally chilly winter. Going by what Kotla’s chief curator has been saying that “a match in Delhi during January is ill-advised”, the foggy afternoon will test the side more than their cricketing mettle.
Batting first means that bowlers will have to struggle with a wet ball in the last one hour or so. And fielders may find it tough to hold on the catches if their captain fields first. Given Kotla’s record, 'win the toss and bat' is usually the advice handed out to every skipper.
“This is a difficult choice but had I been the skipper, I would have batted and tried to put up a big score. Kotla is always a batting paradise, so let’s keep it simple,” a senior groundsman told this paper.
The weather predictions for Sunday have brought smiles on the curators. “The temperature should be around 15 degree. And good news is that there was no dew till 7.30 pm today (Saturday),” he added.
In case Dhoni fails the fitness test, local lad Gautam Gambhir is likely to lead the side. BCCI has not officially named any vice-captain for the home series.
If Dhoni has to sit out — he's been the only consistent bat in this series — the pressure will further pile up on India. The Indian captain was non-committal on the question of playing Ajinkya Rahane.
“Well, we have not decided on the playing XI as yet. Ajinkya has done quite well for us in whatever chances he has got. But we will sit and decide whether we should make any changes in the last game, or give a player a long run in the next series. We will weigh the alternatives,” he said.