New Delhi: Battered and bruised by yet another series defeat, India`s struggling cricketers will seek to restore some pride when they go into the third and final one-dayer against arch-rivals Pakistan here on Sunday with the future of some of the under-performing stars at stake.
The collective failure of the top order batsmen even in home conditions has hurt the team badly in recent times and the hosts will need a huge spark of inspiration to prevent the spirited Pakistanis from achieving a 3-0 clean sweep.
Clearly, the pressure will be on the Indians who have been plagued by an inexplicable form slump of their star batsmen while the limited and inexperienced bowling resources have compounded the misery for the hosts who have now sunk to a new low with the recent debacles.
With the series already out of their grasp, the Indians may experiment by giving a chance to some of their bench players but whether they can change the team`s sliding fortunes remains to be seen in a day-night game which will start at noon to neutralise the dew factor.
Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, in good form with the bat, has been at a loss to explain the repeated failures and there have been suggestions that he should promote himself up the order considering the poor form of the top half.
The hosts lost the first game in Chennai by six wickets and the second in Kolkata by 85 runs to give their arch foes their first series win on Indian soil since 2004-05.
Unless the Indians put up a far better display, the Ferozeshah Kotla could be a witness another drubbing for Dhoni and his struggling men.
Ajinkya Rahane, who has surprisingly not played a single match despite his decent showing in the two T20 games prior to the ODI series, is almost certain to feature in the playing eleven on Sunday.
The two experienced openers Virender Sehwag and GautamGambhir have invariably failed to give a good start and that has hurt the team badly. The Indians may contemplate benching either Sehwag or Gambhir and let Rahane open the innings.
The form of Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina has been patchy and none of them have shown consistency nor have they shouldered the responsibility.
In the absence of retired greats like Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid, the experienced players in the team have not shown the willingness to take the batting load.
Dhoni has acknowledged time and again that the batting has let the team down.
"Everybody knows it`s disappointing. When you are going through transition, you want your senior players to perform and groom the juniors. Once two-three wickets start falling, you need someone to soak up the pressure and consolidate the innings", Dhoni said.
"But again our batting was disappointing. It`s important to have wickets in hand in the end. If you have wickets in hand, it`s possible to score 80-odd runs in the last 10 overs," Dhoni said.