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India may have to call upon Kumble

December 10, 2003

Allan BorderNow that India has done well in the first Test, they need to keep matching the aggression of the Australians.

The World champions normally play their cricket at full throttle and if the Indians are wayward, especially in the bowling, they will be taxed severely. The two roadblocks in Justin Langer and Matthew Hayden are at the start of the innings itself. The others carry, as you say, the knock-out effect. India's bowling must not be shown as inadequate.

Zaheer Khan leads India's bowling attack and he could be more than handful if he is swinging and getting his length right. He bowls at 140 kmph at times and that's a good pace. He needs to be supported by others, but I'm very disappointed with Harbhajan Singh. He doesn't appear the same bowler to me. He wasn't able to get his drift, curve and spin which has been the hallmark of his bowling. Whether it is because of a finger injury or he has had too much of cricket, I'm not sure. India might have to call upon Anil Kumble in Adelaide because they just can't let bowling be their weak link.

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Adelaide can be an interesting ground for both sides. It has something for everyone and the atmosphere still retains its old-world charm. Batters can score briskly and both pacers and spinners can purchase help. The shape of the ground leaves little margin for error for the bowlers as the square boundaries are relatively shorter. Batters, who know the conditions, tend to use the square shots to their advantage. Anything, even marginally short, hits the pickets. 

Coming to the Gabba, I must say it was the best I've seen Sourav Ganguly bat outside his country. He has some marvelous scores, especially in the subcontinent and in one-day cricket. He was under a bit of pressure because of all the talk that he's suspect against short-pitched bowling. But it was a great innings. It's always good if the captain is leading from the front, especially on a tour.

There were two issues from the game about which a lot more was made than required. One, of course, was Damien Martyn's run-out and the other concerned the dismissal of Sachin Tendulkar. Both issues were debated at length and, personally, I feel there was a lot of innuendos being written about.

One must understand the shot Martyn played had three runs written all over it. There was hesitation and it was one of those situations when a run-out occurred. Whether he sacrificed it for his captain or tried to make up late for his third run is difficult to say.

Similarly with Tendulkar's dismissal. It was an honest umpiring error. It happens all the time. But Tendulkar has an iconic status in the game and the focus would just not go away from the issue. Sachin coped it on the chin. It didn't cost India badly either. I would never like technology to be all pervasive. Sometimes there is too much of analysis and issues are looked at too deeply than is necessary. Mistakes happen and there is a human element which must be preserved in the game.

I was a little surprised by Steve Waugh's declaration. I thought they would go for a bit of batting practice but Waugh perhaps wanted to seize the initiative given how well India had performed in the Gabba Test. He wanted to have a few wickets, put the psychological pressure back on the Indians and in that respect it was a clever ploy. More so the way Virender Sehwag and Akash Chopra got out. There were a few mind games played at the Gabba for sure.

As an Australian selector, I was a little disappointed with our collapse on the second day. There were run-outs, Steve Waugh's hit-wicket and other soft dismissals. Justin Langer had played an outstanding innings but then it started to go horribly wrong for us. India took wickets against us like few have in recent times.

Just a Test at the Gabba, with the help of rain of course, India promises a summer of keen cricket. It wouldn't be a washout as everyone has been predicting and instead the visitors could test the hosts like few have in recent memory. Batting is the strength of both and to run through them would take exceptional bowling performances. Without good bowling, these batting sides would be made to appear doubly strong.

Previous column: India must play five bowlers in first Test

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