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Monday, October 13, 2008

Kumble is fit and fine: Srikkanth

BANGALORE: Former chairman of the national selection committee Dilip Vengsarkar may have changed from calling Anil Kumble the most prepared cric
keter to saying 'an unfit Kumble is letting the team down,' but Kris Srikkanth, here watching his first match as the new chairman, has no issues with the captain's fitness.

"He is fit enough to play," said the former Indian captain during a chat at the Chinnaswamy Stadium. "You saw him bowl. I don't think there is any question about his fitness," added Srikkanth, who was most obviously delighted with the draw.

"I am very happy with the team's performance. One good thing that has happened is that everybody has scored. Even though no batsman got a century, if you look at both innings together, all batsmen have scored. That's a very good sign," said Srikkanth.

"The batsmen did an excellent job. In a trying situation like this, experience comes into play and everyone saw the value of that today. The batsmen were able to apply themselves well. On the one hand you can't go for your shots, at the same time you have to defend. It's not easy to bat on a fifth-day pitch and you need a lot of mental strength. The experience of Sachin, Laxman, Dravid and Ganguly proved very useful in this Test match," pointed out the man who in his playing days didn't care too much for defence, first day or last day.

Kumble himself, in his post-match press conference, indicated that he had three days to work on the shoulder and get fit for the second Test. He also tried to put things in perspective: "I think all the other bowlers played their part and I did play my part as a captain but I want to play my part as a player in this series. One bad match doesn't make a bad cricketer."

Continuing about Kumble, Srikkanth didn't seem too worried about the sore shoulder or the fact that Kumble went wicketless in India for the first time in his career (third time overall).

"He's such an honest, committed cricketer and I'm confident he will win the series for us. Don't forget he's a cricketer who has bowled his heart out all these years, even bowling with a broken jaw once. He was a bit unlucky he dropped catches off his own bowling. What he needed was a bit of luck," he said.

That really is showing confidence in one's captain and so very different from Vengsarkar's take, whose committee first picked Kumble as the captain.

"If Kumble could not bowl more overs then he should not have played," Vengsarkar was quoted as saying even as he hinted that the skipper should have come clean to the selectors on his fitness.

Kumble, it must be remembered, bowled in the Irani Cup and at the five-day camp here, and all through there was no indication that his shoulder was giving him a problem. Medical opinion too was in favour of Kumble. "It is a minor issue, certainly not a career-threatening one," said a member of the medical staff on duty here for the Test. He ruled out any rotator cuff problem or tendonitis issues.

Kumble also clarified that the hand injury he sustained while attempting to catch Brad Haddin off his own bowling of the day's first delivery too was nothing serious, Kumble revealed.

Kumble left the field after bowling the first over but thereafter it was Tendulkar and the batsmen who took centre stage. Srikkanth, not exactly known for his technique but well aware what it's all about having watched a certain Sunil Gavaskar bat at the other end, seemed especially impressed with the technical masterpiece that was on view on Monday.

"I was very impressed with Sachin's knock. In trying conditions, it was not easy to bat. If you look at the overall picture it was a fantastic team effort. In the first innings, Zaheer and Harbhajan fought brilliantly. That's a great quality, not giving up and fighting hard."

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