England tour of India - Cricket: India banks on Kumble to win series

Published: Tuesday, December 18, 2001, 19:58 [IST]
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Bangalore: Hosts India will rely on record-seeking spinner Anil Kumble to bring resurgent England back to earth when the third and final cricket Test starts here on Wednesday.The prolific match-winner, who needs one more wicket on his home ground at the Chinnaswamy stadium to reach the 300-wicket mark, hopes to exploit a newly-laid turf to win India the series 2-0."It will be great to get to 300 at home, but I will be happier if we win," said Kumble, who has already taken 18 wickets in the series so far.The Test will be the first international fixture since the square was dug up in June and relaid with brick and mortar, adding to the suspense in both camps how it would play over the next five days."It's a sporting wicket," curator Kasturi Rangan said before letting the cat out of the bag: "It will turn from the second day."That will be sweet music to Indian captain Saurav Ganguly's ears as he attempts to thwart England's unexpected fight back in the series.Nasser Hussain's tourists, described as "pathetic" by former Indian great Sunil Gavaskar after the 10-wicket drubbing in the first Test at Mohali, showed remarkable resilience to draw the second at Ahmedabad last week.India, looking to Kumble and his spin twin Harbhajan Singh to turn the tide around once again, hope the new wicket will change their fortunes at this venue.India lost the last two Tests at the Chinaswamy stadium against Mark Taylor's Australia in 1998 and South Africa last year, but Ganguly insists this is a new game."It's not that India has not won here before," Ganguly said. "It is a new game with a different set of players. I am not worried about the past."The Indian captain preferred not to read too much into the untested wicket, saying looks could be deceptive."It is very difficult to say whether the pitch is result-oriented," he said."It depends on how both sides play. The Mohali pitch was flat, still we had a result. It did not turn at all in Ahemdabad."The main setback during the Ahemdabad Test was we dropped quite a few chances. If they were taken, the result would have been different," Ganguly said.Ganguly ruled out adding a third spinner in off spinner Sharandeep Singh, saying Kumble and Harbhajan were enough to do the job along with seamers Javagal Srinath and Tinu Yohannan."We have the two best spinners in the world and Sachin (Tendulkar) can also bowl spin. To play five bowlers is a bit of a luxury as the fifth bowler always gets underbowled," he said.England too us expected to retain the same side, hoping South African spinner Nicky Boje's five-wicket haul here last year will encourage Ashley Giles to reap a rich harvest."If we play as well as we did in Ahemdabad, there is no reason why we can't win here," coach Duncan Fletcher said.Fletcher said skipper Nasser Hussain, Mark Butcher and Michael Vaughan, who were hit by stomach bugs at Ahemdabad, were fit to take the field.Likely teams: India: : Saurav Ganguly (captain), Deep Dasgupta, Shiv Das, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Venkatsai Laxman, Virender Sehwag, Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh, Javagal Srinath and Tinu Yohannan.England: Nasser Hussain (captain), Mark Butcher, Marcus Trescothick, Mark Ramprakash, Michael Vaughan, Andrew Flintoff, Craig White, James Foster, Richard Dawson, Matthew Hoggard and Ashley Giles.Umpires: Avi Jayaprakash (India) and Asoka De Silva (Sri Lanka)Match referee: Denis Lindsay (South Africa).

Copyright AFP 2001

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