WC 2003 - Ganguly in no mood to experiment, Kumble left out

Published: Sunday, February 23, 2003, 23:53 [IST]
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Durban: Ace leg spinner Anil Kumble has again been left out of India's playing XI for the semi-final match against Kenya under lights on Thursday with skipper Saurav Ganguly asserting he is in no mood to experiment at this crucial stage of India's campaign in the World Cup."It would make little sense for us to change our chosen XI at this stage of the campaign," said Ganguly ahead of the semi-final. "This is surely not the stage to experiment," he said.And Kumble can do little but suffer in silence. The magical leg spinner has played no part in India's progress since the final league game against Pakistan at the start of the month and it seems he would have little else to do but cheer his team-mates as they bid to lay their hands on a World Cup after a gap of 20 years. Kumble has been played as an afterthought in this competition, bowling just 27 overs in three matches for a return of 5 for 107 at a commendable average of 21.40 per wicket and a remarkable economy rate of 3.96 runs per over.Still he has hardly been able to topple Harbhajan Singh from his reserved spot as the team's sole spinner. Kumble was literally forced upon Ganguly against Pakistan as a case was made about his ability to handle pressure in abig match as well as about his enviable record of 10 wickets in a Test innings not very long ago. Kumble's unique feat was responsible for India's thumping win over Pakistan in New Delhi five seasons ago but at Centurion Park the other day, he went wicket less and conceded 51 runs from his 10 overs. Since then Kumble has religiously attended practice sessions and hoped he may still figure in team's plans, but all in vain it seems. Kumble's visage, understandably, has a surliness which hardly fits with his usual cheerful, studious image and only the other day, he refused media manager's request to face the press ahead of yet another match in this World Cup.Harbhajan, in contrast, has gone from strength to strength, his cheerfulness now extending to the point of boisterousness as the off spinner has picked nine wickets from eight games at an average of 28.22 at a brilliant economy rate of 3.77 per over.But the sad part is, it surely is the final frontier of one of India's all-time great cricketer who has picked over 300 wickets in both forms of the game - a tribute to Kumble's fitness and extremely competitive zeal spread over a dozen years and more.Coach John Wright too was looking at the wider picture when he said what India's progress in this competition means to all the guys especially to Javagal Srinath and Kumble who are surely playing their final World Cup. "This placement at the penultimate round of a World Cup campaign is a huge moment for all of us but more so for seniors like Srinath and Kumble," said Wright. Even as Kumble is trying to catch the attention of his own team management, others in the competition have advocated his inclusion as a must for India's ongoing campaign. "As far as we are concerned, I can tell you all our batsmen regard Kumble as a very, very major threat," said Kenyan coach Sandeep Patil as he received the news of Kumble's omission for the semi-finals with a sense of relief.England skipper Nasser Hussain also pitched in for Kumble's inclusion within the side. "Kumble is a match-winner and India would need him,"Hussain had said after England bowed out of the competition in the league stage. Nevertheless, India has marched on relentlessly, not only over opposition but also on hopes of one of its genuine heroes. PTI

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