Irfan Pathan is likely to be part of India's playing XI in the fifth ODI against the West Indies in Chennai on Sunday. (AFP)
New Delhi: With Virender Sehwag's double-hundred having sunk in and the series in the bag, the fifth and final ODI at Chennai's MA Chidambaram Stadium presents India an opportunity to test their bench strength ahead of their tour to Australia.
The spotlight in the last two days has been on two names, albeit for contrasting reasons. On the one hand was Sehwag romancing with just the second ODI double-hundred ever and on the other was Irfan Pathan nervously chewing his nails on missing the flight to Australia – twice.
There was much speculation that Irfan was a front-runner to make it to the Test squad, but after first being elbowed out by Abhimanyu Mithun, the allrounder lost the race to Vinay Kumar, both of whom replaced injured Praveen Kumar and Varun Aaron respectively.
While these matters are beyond Irfan's control, his focus should be on giving his best in Chennai where he is expected to be part of the playing XI. He may replace either Vinay or allrounder Ravindra Jadeja, one of whom may be rested after playing the first four matches of the series. But since India are unlikely to go in with three pacers, Irfan is likely to replace Vinay than Jadeja.
Also in the reckoning is Ajinkya Rahane, whom the Indian management would want to test in the middle order before he boards the flight to Australia. If that happens, Suresh Raina – who is not in the Test squad for Australia – may be asked to sit out as resting Rohit Sharma could unsettle his purple patch.
It's difficult to see India making any other change to the XI on Sunday when West Indies will try to make it 3-2 to give a respectable look to the final scoreline and restore some pride. The visitors are sweating over the availability of Darren Bravo, who has been a revelation on this tour. He missed the run-fest in Indore due to a hamstring injury and is likely to be sidelined in Chennai as well.
Though the series has been lost, West Indies skipper Darren Sammy said his side was not short of motivation to leave the Indian shores on a winning note. "We think we can still win matches. We will approach the game in the morrow like the way we do every game to remain motivated," he said.
But India will be in no mood to present a return gift to the West Indies and instead will look to leave for Australia with another win in the bank.
India: Virender Sehwag (c), Gautam Gambhir, Suresh Raina, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Parthiv Patel (wk), Manoj Tiwary, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Rahul Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Irfan Pathan, Abhimanyu Mithun, Vinay Kumar.
West Indies: Darren Sammy (c), Darren Bravo, Anthony Martin, Sunil Narine, Kieran Powell, Ravi Rampaul, Andre Russel, Lendl Simmons, Adrian Barath, Danza Hyatt, Jason Mohammed, Kieron Pollard, Denesh Ramdin (wk), Kemar Roach, Marlon Samuels.