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India determined to wrap up series on a high
Auckland: With the series already in their pocket, India may opt to rest some of their key players as they go into the fifth and final one-dayer against a demoralised New Zealand here on Saturday, hoping to finish it off on a winning note.

The Indians have already taken an invincible 3-0 lead in the five match series and will be keen to try out their reserve players for the inconsequential game at the Eden Park.

Sachin Tendulkar, who sat out of the last game because of an abdomen injury, is likely to be rested for the match so that he is fully fit for the Test series beginning March 18.

While things have gone favourably for the Indians, the Kiwis have only pride to play for as they desperately need to salvage a win to convince the home fans of their limited-overs potential, especially after recording six consecutive series wins at home.

However, India coach Gary Kirsten has already made it clear that he is in no mood to take the game lightly and would like to carry forward the momentum of the ODI series to the three upcoming Tests.

"It is important to maintain momentum and win games of cricket. That might require us to use our best combination. We also need to be mindful of the fact that it might be an opportunity to rest one or two players. We just have to weigh up what we want to do but we haven't decided yet," Kirsten said.

India are set to make some changes in their playing eleven and in all probability left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha and Irfan Pathan are likely to get a game before they return home alongwith Yusuf Pathan, Praveen Kumar and Rohit Sharma on Sunday. While Irfan played in the Twenty20 series, which India lost 0-2, Ojha so far has had little to do on this tour, other than roll his arm over at the nets.

And this will come as an ideal opportunity for Ojha to win the selectors' confidence. A poor show in the match would provide the leeway for Ravindra Jadeja, who has the making of a competitive all-rounder, to stake a claim for the second spinner's slot in India's ODI scheme of things.

The Indian team management is also likely to give Zaheer Khan, who did the bulk of the work in Ishant Sharma's injury-forced absence during the ODIs, a break before the Test series and draft in Irfan in his place.

Tendulkar's participation in the final ODI also looks doubtful as the team management is in no mood to aggravate his his abdomen injury ahead of the Test series. The batting maestro also missed the fourth ODI in Hamilton after suffering the injury during his majestic knock of 163 in Christchurch.

"We are not sure yet. We will have to wait and see," said Kirsten.

If Tendulkar is rested, India will go in with Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir at the top of the order. And if the Delhi-twosome, who were involved in a rollicking 201-run partnership for the first wicket at the Hamilton on Wednesday, maintain their momentum, India should complete a Kiwi sweep, similar to the 5-0 drubbing they gave England last season.

It will be interesting to see how many balls disappear in tomorrow's day-night affair at the small but petite Eden Park ground, whose square boundaries are a lot shorter than Christchurch, where a record number of sixes were blasted in the Twenty20 (24) and one-day (31) match of the series.

There is also a possibility of Sehwag, who has been in the form of his life, to score a double hundred, something that he spoke about after his 60-ball hundred in the last match.

The Kiwis would be eyeing a consolation win to boost their morale ahead of the Test series and skipper Daniel Vettori is determined to avoid a 4-0 drubbing in front of the home crowds.

"We need to play at our best to avoid a 4-0 drubbing in front of our public and fans," said Vettori.

But considering the form of Indian batsmen, Vettori's men will have to produce something extraordinary to stop the marauding Indian gladiators from completing a series rout.

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