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Bowlers have little margin for error in Rajkot

Last updated on: December 14, 2009 20:35 IST

Bowlers have little margin for error in Rajkot

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A run-feast is expected when India take on Sri Lanka in the first One-Day International of the five-match series, in Rajkot, on Tuesday.

The Rajkot track is known to be batsman-friendly and medium pacers will have little margin for error.

England's bowlers were spanked by Yuvraj in the previous ODI held at the venue. The left-hander smashed a destructive 138 off 78 balls as India raised a huge 387 and won the match by 158 runs.

India, currently ranked second behind Australia in the ICC ODI ratings, have the incentive of sweeping the five-match series, as it will help them narrow the gap with the front runners.

With 122 ratings points, India are eight behind Australia and can reduce the gap to four ratings points if they whitewash the Lankans.


Image: Team India in a practice session in Rajkot on Monday
Photographs: Reuters
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Yuvraj a doubtful starter

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Yuvraj, however, is a doubtful starter for the match. A suspected hairline fracture to his finger has left India a trifle worried.

It will be a big setback for India if the southpaw, who injured his left little finger while fielding in the last Twenty20 match in Mohali, misses the match.

Yuvraj had played a pivotal role in levelling the T20 series against the same opponents. His blistering unbeaten 25-ball 60 helped India achieve the biggest ever run-chase in the shortest format of the game in Mohali.

The team management will wait till Tuesday morning to decide on fielding Yuvraj. In case he is unable to take the field, then Virat Kohli is expected to come into the playing eleven.

However, the return of Sachin Tendulkar, Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan should be a boost to Team India.


Image: Yuvraj Singh (left) talks to MS Dhoni

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Fielding a concern for Dhoni

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Dhoni wants the youngsters in the team to show the way for others in fielding.

"Fielding is a bit of concern. It's been around for quite some time now. We are hoping it does not come into play in the one-day series," he said.

"There are a few youngsters who have come into the side. The responsibility will be on them to show off how good they are as a fielder. Once you have at least four good fielders, you can stop the batsmen from getting those singles," Dhoni added.

Dhoni said the induction of fielding consultant Mike Young is a good step forward, but improvement cannot happen overnight.

"Since Mike has joined us we are laying emphasis on fielding as well. He also needs a few specific sessions as coach. It's a very important aspect of any format of the game. But if you can see the impact (of Young joining) in three days, that will be great."


Image: MS Dhoni during a fielding drill

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Lankans have problems at the top

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Meanwhile, Sri Lanka's top-order is yet to fire. Sanath Jayasuriya and Tillakratne Dilshan so far haven't clicked as an opening pair.

Lankan coach Trevor Bayliss indicated that Jayasuriya could bat lower down the order and Upul Tharanga may open along with Dilshan.

"The form of Tharanga at the top of the order has been quite good for us. Tharanga had made some 70s and 80s in the home series against Pakistan a few months ago and we could not overlook him on his current form," he said.

Meanwhile, like Yuvraj, Sri Lanka too could miss the services of Lasith Malinga, who is struggling with an injury.

"Malinga is not feeling at his best. We will have to wait and see how he is tomorrow," Bayliss said.


Image: Sri Lankan players in practice

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