New Delhi, Jan 5: With the series already decided in favour of Pakistan, the third and final One Day International here on Sunday (January 6) is only of academic interest. It is a chance for faltering Team India to salvage pride and avoid a clean sweep of 0-3. If Pakistan win 3-0 it will be a historic whitewash for them as they have never won in India with that margin.
Pakistan are looking in top form with a good bowling attack. Their bowlers and opener Nasir Jamshed have been the architects of 2-0 lead after winning in Chennai and Kolkata. Now, they will be confident of leaving India with a whitewash.
India's proud home record is under threat. West Indies were the last team to make a clean sweep of a ODI series. They won 5-0 in 1983. Since then, no team has inflicted a whitewash on India in India.
It is tough not to put Pakistan as favourites for the game at Feroz Shah Kotla. In their only previous meeting at this venue in 2005, Pakistan had crushed India by 159 runs. Back then, Pakistan left India with 4-2 series win. As like Eden Gardens, the visitors will enter this ground in Delhi with 100 per cent record.
For India, they are staring at a whitewash from their arch rivals. If they lose 3-0 it will be the first clean sweep of Pakistan in India.
If India have to score their first win of the series, it will again depend on their batting. Openers Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir are under pressure to get the team off to a good start. The duo can look for a change of luck as they are playing on their home ground.
It is important for Sehwag and Gambhir pair to click. If they get enough runs at the start, it is less pressure on the middle order and captain MS Dhoni.
With Ajinkya Rahane waiting, the team management might also explore the possibility of replacing one of the Delhi boys at the top with the Mumbai right-hander.
In both matches of the series, Dhoni has been the best batsman for India. His ton and half century have saved further ignominy for the batting superstars.
One more worry for India apart from Pakistan's bowling, is opener Jamshed. The left-hander has scored all his 3 ODI hundreds against India including two this series. India bowlers need to devise a plan to get him early in Delhi.
Even though this tie is an inconsequential one in terms of the series, it holds lot of significance for the hosts.
With five-match ODI rubber against England set to start on January 11, Delhi could be the last chance for some of India's out-of-form stars.
India: MS Dhoni (captain and wicketkeeper), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, R Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Ashok Dinda, Ajinkya Rahane, Ravindra Jadeja, Amit Mishra, Shami Ahmed.
Pakistan: Misbah-ul-Haq (captain), Mohammad Hafeez, Nasir Jamshed, Azhar Ali, Younis Khan, Shoaib Malik, Kamran Akmal (wicketkeeper), Junaid Khan, Umar Gul, Saeed Ajmal, Mohammad Irfan, Anwar Ali, Haris Sohail, Imran Farhat, Umar Akmal, Wahab Riaz, Zulfiqar Babar.
Match starts at 12 noon IST