India to miss Kirsten in series decider

August 5th, 2008 - 9:24 pm ICT by IANS  

By Rex Clementine
Colombo, Aug 5 (IANS) India will be without coach Gary Kirsten for the crucial third Test against Sri Lanka as the South African would fly home to be with his mother, who is critically ill with cancer. Kirsten is scheduled to fly home to Cape Town Tuesday evening. “It’s a blow. I have to fly home but these players are aware what they need to do,” Kirsten told journalists while leaving the team hotel.

“I have complete faith in what Anil (Kumble) can do. He can take over the reins. We had an extensive chat yesterday over what needs to be done.”

“And they are right on track in terms of preparation. As far as I am concerned, the important thing is to be aware of the situation. They know they have an opportunity to make history,” Kirsten added.

Kirsten is expected to return for the ODI series.

The former South African opener, who retired from international cricket four years back, said he was confident of the team bouncing back after their demoralising loss in the first Test.

“I knew the team had the ability to bounce back. They have a proven history of that. They lifted their performance by at least 20 per cent to pull themselves back into contention. And we have always believed that when this team is firing on all cylinders, we can match the best in the world,” he added.

India won the second Test in Galle to level the series and will play the third and decider Test at Colombo’s P. Saravanamuttu Stadium, Sri Lanka’s oldest Test venue where India played their first Test against Sri Lanka in 1985.

Kirsten singled out freak spinner Ajantha Mendis to play a significant role in the decider.

“I think there is a lot of talk about the two spinners. Mendis has come into this series and has got 18 wickets and he is going to get lot more wickets around the world, I can assure you that. He is not among the easiest to play,” Kirsten said.

“He is quite difficult to read. A lot of people asked me why aren’t you watching his videos? It’s not about the video analysis. When you are watching it in super slow and when you are out there facing a guy, who isn’t in slow motion, it’s quite difficult to pick him,” he added.

Wicket keeper Dinesh Karthik, who came into the side after Mahendra Singh Dhoni pulled out of the series, has struggled in the first two Tests, putting down a few chances. He’s also struggled for runs and is increasingly under pressure to be replaced by Parthiv Patel.

“I had a chat with him after the Test. No decision has been made about who will play the third Test. He made a few errors, but people can make errors,” Kirsten said.

Kirsten was confident that Sachin Tendulkar, who came into the series requiring 176 runs to overtake West Indian Brian Lara as the highest run scorer in Tests, would reach the landmark in the next Test.

“The good thing about this team is that players are focusing on the team. And he (Tendulkar) is going to get it at some stage. I am sure,” Kirsten, a veteran of 101 Tests for South Africa, said.

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