Tourists keen to finish on high as Tendulkar and Sehwag are rested for the third one-day international at Ahmedabad
Proteas play for pride while India play for future
Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar, India's regular opening pair in one-day cricket, will not be taking guard in the third and final game against South Africa in Ahmedabad today. With the series already won by the hosts 2-0, Sehwag and Tendulkar - who scored the first ODI double hundred in the second match in Gwalior on Wednesday - have been rested, news that will no doubt have disappointed home fans.
As for the Proteas, they would be relieved that the duo are missing as they chase a consolation win to end their tour of India and return home with some "pride". Not only has Tendulkar's milestone innings of 200 not out sealed the fate of the series, it also consolidated the hosts' place in the rankings race - they are second only to Australia in ODIs. The India selectors have decided to give a chance to the young batsmen Murali Vijay and Rohit Sharma. One of the two medium pacers - Abhimanyu Mithun of Karnataka or Tamil Nadu's Ravichandran Ashwin - looks likely to replace Praveen Kumar, the Uttar Pradesh seamer.
Despite fielding an inexperienced team, Gary Kirsten, the India coach, said he is focused on a whitewash. "We take every game seriously and are looking forward to a clean sweep," the former Proteas opening batsman said. "It's a big opportunity for the younger players like Virat Kohli and Dinesh Karthik and others to show what they can do. We need to have competition for every place and we have an exceptional group of nine or 10 batsmen.
"It is great to have a lot of young players in the side and it is a good opportunity for them to prove their mettle." Vijay and Karthik are expected to open the batting and the Proteas bowlers will be thankful Sehwag and Tendulkar are missing. "Sachin played an unbelievable knock," said AB de Villiers, whose unbeaten 114 went in vain for South Africa in Gwalior. "He didn't do much wrong in the last game and I don't think any bowler in the world could have tackled that.
"When you are up against the likes of Tendulkar and Sehwag, it puts a lot of pressure on you early on. The bowlers are quite young, so it is pretty tough for them coming out here and bowling to some of the best players in the world." South Africa will also be making changes to their XI, though a forced one after JP Duminy was sent home following a hand injury and toothache. But the tourists are not treating it as a dead rubber. "It's not really a dead game for us," de Villiers said. "We have got a lot of pride to win back. We really want to win the last match - 2-1 sounds a lot better than 3-0. We really want to fight and prove a point that we are a good side."
In other news, two Pakistan cricketers are under investigation for suspected match-fixing, according to Ejaz Butt, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman. "We suspect two of our players are involved in match-fixing but until we get a report from our inquiry committee I will not say anything more on this subject," Butt said yesterday. The PCB set up a six-member inquiry committee this month to investigate the team's dismal performances on their recent tour of Australia. Pakistan lost each of their three Tests as well as all the five one-day matches and the one Twenty20 international.
The committee is being headed by Wasim Bari, a former Pakistan Test captain. @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org