Kumble doubtful for third Test against South Africa

April 10th, 2008 - 4:52 pm ICT by admin  

By Qaiser Mohammad Ali
Kanpur, April 10 (IANS) Seeking to avoid their first home series loss in almost four years, India will have some agonising moments as captain Anil Kumble is still not fit for the crucial Test against South Africa starting here Friday. A final decision on his groin problem and whether he can make it to the playing XI would be taken before the match.

India are trailing 0-1 in the three-match series and ace leg-spinner Kumble will be an important cog in the team’s plans to script a win at the Green Park Stadium and avoid their first home series defeat since 2004, when Australia had triumphed.

“I have to wait till the morning to take a call on my fitness,” Kumble told reporters at the Green Park Stadium here Thursday.

The good news, however, is that pacers Ishant Sharma, nursing toe and finger injuries and Sreesanth, suffering from shoulder injury, were declared fit for the match.

Kumble, 37 and with 608 wickets from 127 Tests under his belt, admitted he was not comfortable when he bowled at the nets Thursday.

“Not really,” he said when asked how he felt at the practice session. “But I am hoping to get better and that will be first call in the morning. If I can bowl then I will play and that is the kind of attitude I have.”

After the first Test ended in a tall-scoring draw in Chennai, South Africa thrashed India by an innings and 90 runs in Ahmedabad to lead the series 1-0.

Kumble sounded confident on the eve of the match. “We are very positive and we are in the right frame of mind,” he said.

“It is not the first time we have lost one Test match and come back. We have done that in Australia and whenever we were pushed to the wall we have performed well. We are confident and we would like to approach this Test match with that type of confidence.”

Unlike the Ahmedabad pitch that assisted the pacers, the Green Park strip is expected to be helpful to spinners, which suits the Indians more than their rivals.

“Bowlers need to exploit the conditions I think we have the capabilities to take 20 wickets and set the record straight. So no matter what the conditions are, we are prepared to do that in this Test,” he said.

There are chances that India might pick three spinners in the playing XI. Either off-spinner Ramesh Powar, who has been included in the inflated 16-member squad in view of the injuries, or leg-spinner Piyush Chawla could be the third spinner.

Kumble acknowledged that the match has assumed significance following South Africa’s win in Ahmedabad.

“Every Test match is important and every series is important. We want to look ahead. We want to concentrate on this Test match and get the right result to level the series. We are very proud of our home record and we would like to keep that intact. So it is important for us to go out there and get the right result,” he said.

“They are a good side and we are also a good side. We have a few plans to go ahead and we will ensure that we exploit that. We are very confident that we will be able to do that.”

Kumble, however, declined to comment on the pitch. “There has been a lot of talk about the pitch. I have always said that pitch, toss and weather have to be taken out of equation. The surface here is dry, and it will assist spinners as the match goes on. But we are confident of performing in this Test irrespective of the conditions.”

On the outside chance of Mohammed Kaif playing in the city where he learnt the basics of the game as a youngster, Kumble said: “At this point of time Yuvraj (Singh) is ahead of Kaif.”

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