Kumble to play against Railways in Ranji Trophy

Published: Tuesday, November 22, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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New Delhi:India's leading wicket-taker in Tests Anil Kumble would be looking to prove his fitness and form even as Railways look to begin their title defence on a winning note against Karnataka in the Ranji Trophy season opener beginning here tomorrow.

The 35-year-old Kumble, with 465 scalps and three short of his 100th Test, will be playing in a first-class match after a gap of six years when he steps on the field at the Karnail Singh stadium here.

The last time the Bangalorean played in a domestic match, excluding limited overs ties, was for his home state in the Ranji Trophy in 1999-2000.

Coming back from a two month's rest to treat his troubling lower back, Kumble was only too aware of the responsbility that rests on his shoulder.

"It is the start of the season, and it is important to get started on the right note. And I have to contribute towards that," Kumble said on the eve of the match.

"I am also coming back after a gap of two months. It will be important for me to get some overs and confidence ahead of the Sri Lanka series."

Kumble's task would not be easy, given the fact that the Karnail Singh track is a slow turner with little help for the bowlers. But the wicket had tended to be of variable bouncefrequently, so strokemaking would not be that comfortable as well.

"Given any track, a bowler's job is to take wickets. As a senior bowler you have to do the job," Kumble said.

"I will try and bring in whatever experience and thought I can. At the end of the day, it is important for us to win this match."

Railways' captain Sanjay Bangar said the team would try to make sure there was no repeat of a slump in performance which the team had showed the very next season after winning the title in 2001-02.

"We are a pretty organised side. There won't be any complacency, we will guard against it," he said. "We have played well in 2004 and 2005, we have corrected that trend."

The last time the teams met in Bangalore, Railways won convincingly by seven wickets.

Coach Vinod Sharma felt the morning moisture would not be a factor huge enough to bowl first if his skipper won the toss.

While the hosts had decided on the 11, the visitors would be without their entertaining opener Robin Uthappa who was called up for the Board President's XI match against the visiting Sri Lankans starting on Nov 26.

The teams:

Railways: Sanjay Bangar (captain), Amit Pagnis, Tejinder Pal Singh, Vineet Saxena, Raja Ali, Yere Goud, Shankar Rao, Sudhir Wankhede, Harvinder Singh, Kulamani Parida and Santosh Saxena.

Karnataka (from): Sujit Somasunder (captain), Barrington Rowland, Thilak Naidu, Sudhindra Shinde, Deepak Chougule, B Akhil, Sunil Joshi, Anil Kumble, Dodda Ganesh, NC Aiyappa, Vinay Kumar, Udit Patel, Stuart Binny and Bharat Chipli.

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