Bangalore: Weather may play spoil sport as England, down 0-3 and struggling to keep the series alive, face a stern test against India that will witness Sachin Tendulkar joining the already strong batting line up for the fourth match of the seven-game ODI series to be played here tomorrow.
It will be a do or die battle for England captain Kevin Pietersen, who was virtually outwitted by the shrewd M S Dhoni in the first three games played at Rajkot, Indore and Kanpur.
The day-night encounter will witness India bolstered by the return of Sachin Tendulkar who was rested for the first three matches.
However, the weather is causing the organisers a big concern as the city experienced long spells of drizzle under the influence of a trough of low over Southwest bay off Tamil Nadu-Sri Lanka coast.
Indian Meteorological Department local office Director A Muthuchami said the rains, at times heavy, would continue for the next 48 hours.
The wicket at the M Chinnaswamy seem not much different from the other three matches played so far. It would help stroke play though it could slow down in the second half. ''It is a typical one-day wicket and and good for stroke play. Score of around 300 is not a difficult to task achieve,'' Chief groundsman Narayana Raju said.
Dhoni will now face a piquant situation of deciding where to play Tendulkar though it is now clear that his Mumbai-teammate Rohit Sharma will make way for the little master.
It will be difficult for the Indian captain to break the successful opening pair of Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag after their exploits against the Aussies in the recent Test series that India won and the total domination the home team had over the English.
The Indian skipper can neither ignore Sachin's exploits as a opener as he had scored 91 and 102 against the Australians in the three-match final Down Under earlier this year. Nor can he dump the successful pair of Gambhir-Sehwag to accommodate Tendulkar.
For Irfan Pathan, who returned to the side replacing the off-colour R P Singh, there will be no such qualms as he would ease into the third seamer's place.
Gloomy weather resulted in the two teams not turning up for the practice session this morning and weather permitting they would hold net practice in the afternoon. The two teams arrived in the city last night and reached the hotel late. This was the other reason they could not make it to the grounds early.
This match will be India's 700th ODI.
While hosts look well poised to extend their runaway lead, England struggles to come to terms with the Indian conditions.
The visitors have found themselves at the receiving end in the first three matches as the middle order has struggle to tackle the Indian spin attack which accounted for 71 overs out of the 150 bowled in the series so far.
Pietersen, however, is hopeful of a better show and a win here tomorrow as he had said there were positives the team could carry from the Kanpur match. He had said this would help England win tomorrow's match.
A typical Indian team would have suffered from complacency after gaining a 3-0 lead but not the present outfit under Dhoni, who has given a relentless push to the team in continuing with its good run and England cannot expect any let up from the home team.
Yuvraj Singh, gunning to regain his place in the Test squad, will be looking for another good performance after his back to back centuries in the first two matches, while Sehwag will again prove to be a thorn for England if he survives the first hour.
Dhoni can now give a different dimension to the Indian attack with the inclusion of Irfan Pathan, a different bowler compared to R P Singh, though both are southpaws.
However, with the wicket giving little assistance to the speedsters, it will be the spinners who are likely to be the main trouble makers for the English batting line-up.
The England team management is likely to again look to tinker with the struggling batting line-up after asking Ravi Bopara to open the innings at Kanpur.
The bowling department will continue to suffer due to the absence of left-arm pacer Ryan Sidebottom who continued to be ruled out due to a back problem.