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Anil Kumble - Insight Edge

Instead they should restrict scoring rate until the pitch breaks, suggests Kumble



Thursday, November 26, 2021
'Bowlers must not relax'


Gautam Gambhir is on a roll and has now established himself well in the Indian line-up. His two big centuries in the last two Tests show how deserving he is of the ICC Test Player of the Year award.

When he started his career, his problems were twin fold. He had a tendency to reach out to the ball outside the off stump and at other times fell across the stumps while trying to play on the onside. The former led to many dismissals behind the wicket and the latter invariably caught him plumb in front. Now, Gambhir’s game is quite compact and he plays much closer to his body and the results are there for all to see.

The best part of Gambhir is that for an opener he’s a very good player of spin too. This helps immensely when it comes to playing in the sub-continent, where irrespective of whom you play, you tend to face a lot of overs of spin on any given day.


Rahul Dravid went past Australia's Allan Border to become the fourth highest run-getter in Test cricket. 
© AFP

His opening partner Virender Sehwag is, of course, a very different batsman. He is an impact player and a match-winner. Sehwag just doesn’t score quickly, he actually demolishes the opposition by hitting boundaries off good deliveries. He virtually dismisses the bowlers and sets up the game for you with the pace of his innings.

Sehwag’s presence and success at the top allows people like Gambhir and Rahul Dravid to play their own way.

Here, I must congratulate Rahul for going past Allan Border’s aggregate of runs. Rahul’s batting in the first Test and the one at Kanpur is some of the best I have seen from him. Kanpur has not been the ideal first or second day wicket and Rahul had to really apply himself.

I am sure that when Mahendra Dhoni was walking out for the toss, the whole team would have ganged up, imploring him to win the toss. When you have bowled close to or over 200 overs in the previous Test, it is not easy to recover and come hard again so soon. The body needs more rest and it showed in the Lankan approach and it is quite understandable.

Whenever I bowled in Kanpur, I remember having ended the day with a sore shoulder. The pitch at the Green Park demands that the bowler puts in a lot of effort if he is to get anything off the surface and the extra bit of shoulder that I had to use always left me in pain.

Looking ahead, the pitch will play similarly at least till tea on the third day. Thereafter, it is bound to spin a little more and while it will not get dangerous, the spinners will enjoy it a little more. For the Indians, it will have to be a waiting game. They simply must not relax just because they have a total of nearly 650. What they must do is restrict the rate of scoring until the wickets starts to break a bit and not allow the Lankans to get away.

In the 24 overs that were bowled by the Indians on Wednesday, there was a lot of intent. To carry that intent into a whole day’s play when you know there are 90 overs to be bowled is not easy but that’s what they need to do.

Getting rid of Dilshan off the first ball, a catch that will give debutant Pragyan Ojha confidence with the ball too, the Indians made a perfect start. Now it’s all about waiting patiently for the kill. Even if they do not pick too many wickets on the third day but manage to keep the Lankan batsmen quiet, they can always make inroads on day-four.

The Indians certainly are in the driver’s seat.
 


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