Rampaging India look for series whitewash
Chennai: High on confidence after steamrolling the opposition in the first three matches before snatching an improbable win in the next, a rampaging India would look to rout New Zealand with a 5-0 series whitewash in the fifth and final cricket one-dayer.
The young Indian side have done remarkably well in the series in the absence of senior players like Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Harbhajan Singh who have been rested ahead of the tough tour to South Africa.
A 5-0 series whitewash would be a sweet revenge for India for the 2-5 drubbing during their visit to New Zealand in 2003. It would also be a humiliating defeat for New Zealand since the two sides played each other since 1975-76.
Fortunately for cricket fans in Chennai, who have seen abandonment of matches due to inclement weather in the recent past, sun has come out brightly since yesterday after continuous rain for the past few days.
With weather gods relenting, the ground is expected to be fully dry up and a full match appeats to be on the card at the M A Chidambaram Stadium.
Most of the top-order Indian batsmen have been among runs in the series, with the exception of Murli Vijay, and one or two have raised their hands in all the four previous matches to take the side to comfortable victories.
The only time India had hiccups in the series was in Bangalore on Tuesday with the home side in trouble at 188 for five at one stage while chasing a daunting target of 316 runs.
But from the way Yusuf Pathan butchered New Zealand bowlers to single-handedly take India to a five-wicket victory with seven balls remaining, it seemed that this young side would not lose any match in this series.
Yusuf`s blitzkrieg unbeaten 123 of 96 balls and useful contributions from Sourabh Tiwary (37 not out), Rohit Sharma (44) and Parthiv Patel (53) must have boosted the confidence of the side that they can go for a whitewash.
Stand in skipper Gautam Gambhir has led from the front, hitting back to back centuries to top the batting averages for four matches. Gambhir has scored 329 runs with an average of 164.50, followed by Virat Kohli (232 runs; 77.33 average).
Gambhir himself was upbeat with the chance to complete a memorable series clean sweep.
"We need to win this game. It is important. It would be good to have five wins in a row and wind up the series before heading for South Africa and it would be useful," he said.