Kumble undecided about playing Mohali Test; injured Clark out (Preview)

October 16th, 2008 - 6:15 pm ICT by IANS  

Harbhajan SinghMohali (Punjab), Oct 16 (IANS) Suspense over India skipper Anil Kumble’s fitness, thunderstorms and showers. Not a happy situation for the Indians on the eve of the second cricket Test against Australia. Not that everything is hunky dory for the visitors, injured Stuart Clark is out of their eleven.Light showers drove both the teams indoors for nets, but the expectations are that there will be enough light and time for an exciting contest.

Kumble, who will be celebrating his 38th birthday here Friday, is nursing a sore bowling shoulder. He said he would take a call only in the morning before the toss. “we’ll just wait and see how it responds. It’s a lot better than what it was yesterday.”

The India captain has an impressive record at the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) Stadium with 36 wickets from seven Tests, but the Australia captain Ricky Ponting is convinced that Kumble has no choice but to make way for the third medium-pacer on the usually lively Mohali track.

Ponting is convinced that with forecast of overcast conditions for the weekend, Indian think-tank may go in with a third quick, instead of playing an injured Kumble. Yet, he does not think the pitch would beall that helpful for the fast bowlers.

Fast bowler Munaf Patel is likely to join Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma to exploit the ideal conditions for fast bowlers.

If Kumble is unavailable, ODI captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni will lead the team for the first time in Tests, though the conditions may not be ideal for him for a debut.

The match is also important for batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar, who needs just 15 runs to surpass West Indian Brian Lara’s record of 11,953 runs as the highest run-getter in Tests.

“Sachin is such a great player. This is a special moment not only for him but for world cricket. A lot of people are waiting for that (record). I not only want him to achieve that, but also get a big score here,” Kumble said.

The moisture in the Mohali wicket because of the rain and the prolonged monsoon over the last one month will definitely make both teams go in for a pace attack.

Chief curator Daljit Singh said despite the moisture the pitch will also have something for the batsmen.

Given the bouncy nature of the track, Australian pace attack, spearheaded by Brett Lee, should enjoy bowling here much more than they did on the flat pitch in Bangalore. But the Indians are in no mood to let the Australians a free run.

“We have gained a lot of confidence after the Bangalore Test. I am hopeful that our batsmen will come good here. We want to take forward from there,” Kumble said.

The Indian captain refused to be drawn into the war of words between both sides on weaknesses of each other.

“Let’s concentrate on cricket and leave all this aside,” he said.

Australia will also start the second game without Calrk who has been ruled out after his injured elbow failing fitness Test this morning. An pain-killing injection to his elbow did not help matters and he is replaced by Victoria’s debutant Peter Siddle.

Siddle’s entry means Australia will have four players — Shane Watson, Brad Haddin, Cameron White and Siddle — who have played fewer than five Tests.

Despite the setbacks, Ponting is confident of a strong showing. He said: “There was a lot made of the inexperience factor coming here, but all those inexperienced guys showed they are more than capable of performing well at international level. There’s no doubt it’s easier for us guys who have played a bit, particularly in this part of the world.”

Lee is the only one to have a good idea about the wicket here, having played for Kings XI Punjab in the Indian Premier League (IPL). He has played more matches here than any of his Australian teammates.

“I know the Mohali pitch because of my IPL stint,” Lee said.

The toss would be a factor as the track here has invariabkly helped the fast bowlers in the first two sessions. In the seven Tests here, teams batting first have struggled for runs but second innings scores have been big.


Australia: Ricky Ponting (captain), Michael Clarke (vice-captain), Matthew Hayden, Brad Haddin (wicketkeeper), Doug Bollinger, Michael Hussey, Phil Jaques, Mitchell Johnson, Simon Katich, Jason Krejza, Brett Lee, Peter Siddle, Shane Watson, Cameron White and Stuart Clark

India: Anil Kumble (captain), Mahendra Singh Dhoni (vice-captain/wicketkeeper), Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, V.V.S. Laxman, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Sourav Ganguly, Subramaniam Badrinath, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Amit Mishra, Munaf Patel, Ishant Sharma and Rudra Pratap Singh

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