Having achieved their best-ever ODI ranking by displacing world champions Australia as the number two team,a confident India would be eyeing a series whitewash when they take on Sri Lanka in the final cricket one-dayer in Colombo on Sunday.
It has already turned out to be a dream series for Mahendra Singh Dhoni,who made it to the record books by becoming the first Indian captain to win nine ODIs on the trot and the flamboyant wicket-keeper batsman would like to keep the winning momentum going in the last game.
The other thing which will be in Dhoni’s mind when he takes the field is that every win from here on will bring his side one step closer to the world number one position,which is being currently occupied by South Africa (125) with a lead of just three points.
And coach Gary Kirstein had no hesitation in admitting that his main aim this year is to take India to the top position.
“Getting to number one is the obvious goal this year,but You just can’t think you have won the series 4-0 and be complacent in the next game. It doesn’t happen with us. When you go onto the field you go to win and not just compete. Great teams are those that carry the momentum forward into every game,” Kirsten said.
The Indians have been phenomenal in all departments of the game in the series as compared to the hosts who were rather disappointing.
While Sachin Tendulkar,Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag provide aggression at the top of the order,the likes of Yuvraj Singh,Suresh Raina,Yousuf Pathan and Dhoni have been rock steady at the middle.
The bowlers,on the other hand,have been disciplined all through the series. Interestingly,the most heartening thing to see was the success of toung spinner Pragyan Ojha and part-time bowlers in Yuvraj,Raina,Sehwag and Yousuf.
Faced with the prospect of an embarrassing a 0-5 whitewash,a demoralised Sri Lanka will look to salvage some pride before the home crowd in the last match of the series.
The hosts,who are playing non-stop cricket for five months,seemed to have forgotten their basics against the mighty Indians.
The Lankans have floundered in every department of the game. If their batting and bowling has been below par,their fielding has been dreadful.
Without veteran Chaminda Vaas,the Lankan pace attack looked clueless. Nuwan Kulasekera,Thilan Thushara and Dilhara Fernando lacked sting in their bowling.
The biggest disappointment,however,has been the performance of spin duo of Muttiah Muralitharan and mystery man Ajantha Mendis.
Although Murali created history in the last match by becoming the highest wicket-taker in one-day cricket,he had to toil hard to achieve the feat which gives a clear idea of his bad patch. He never looked threatening as Indian batsmen negotiated the spin wizard with ease.
Mendis,on the other hand,seemed to have run out of ideas and looked predictable before the rampaging Indians that forced Mahela Jayawardena to drop the Armyman from the last encounter.
For Dhoni and Co,there are no major worries and it remains to be seen whether some more senior players are rested or not for tomorrow’s match to make way for reserve players like Ravindra Jadeja who will make his debut if selected.
After taking a break in the last match,Sachin Tendulkar is expected to return tomorrow to make amends for the dubious umpiring decisions which he received in the first three matches of the series.
India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt and wk),Gautam Gambhir,Ravindra Jadeja,Zaheer Khan,Praveen Kumar,Pragyan Ojha,Munaf Patel,Irfan Pathan,Yusuf Pathan,Suresh Raina,Virender Sehwag,Ishant Sharma,Rohit Sharma,Sachin Tendulkar,Yuvraj Singh.
Sri Lanka: Mahela Jaywardene (capt),Kumar Sangakkara (wk),Sanath Jayasuriya,Upul Tharanga,Chamara Kapugedera,Jehan Mubarak,Tillakaratne Dilshan,Thilina Kandamby,Muttiah Muralitharan,Ajantha Mendis,Farveez Maharoof,Dilhara Fernando,Nuwan Kulasekera,Thilina Thushara and Angelo Mathews.