~~England want to decipher the Kumble code~~

Published: Thursday, March 16, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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New Delhi:England was 'devastated' by the defeat in Mohali and according to allrounder Paul Collingwood, the side would continue trying to solve the riddle called Anil Kumble.

''It was easy to work out what went wrong in the second Test - we failed to score a big enough first innings total - and Anil Kumble had a big part to play in that,'' Collingwood wrote in his BBC Sports column.

''The crucial thing with Kumble, even on wickets that don't turn, is his variation in pace, which is very hard to read,'' said Collingwood, all candour.

Explaining further, England's centurion in the Nagpur Test, went on to say, ''He's not like a usual spinner with a delivery just above 50mph. He can get into the 60s and still get enough turn to make it deviate. And his accuracy is unbelievable.''

''Any bowler, especially a world-class one like Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath of Australia, can get into your head if you let him, so you mustn't let him.

'' Opining the pre-determined strategies are bound to come a cropper against the leggie, first Indian to have 500 Test wicket, and it needed improvisation to negotiate Kumble, Collingwood said, ''You have to look at the individual situation to work out your options.

You can't go out with a game plan that's set in stone; you have to use your brain. '' Kumble also got assistance from the Chandigarh pitch, he said.

''A lot comes down to the wicket that you're playing on. The Lord's wicket for the first Ashes Test was perfectly suited to McGrath. The one in Mohali was perfectly suited to Kumble because of the bounce and turn.''

Admitting Kumble dominates the discussions when the England think-tank devises strategies, Collingwood said, ''We communicate all the time as a team, in the dressing-room and out in the middle, on how to play him and where to score from him and we will keep doing that.''

On the second Test, the Englishman said his side could not benefit from winning the toss and blamed the batsmen for failing to put up a big first innings score, which cost them dearly. ''In India you have to really capitalise when you win the toss and the wicket is flat, to bat for long periods and make big scores. A total of 300 was not enough for us.''

''We shouldn't look at our bowling when they came to bat. You can't expect to knock the last three batsmen out for less than 20 any more and they fought back well. We have to look at our individual performances as batsmen as starts were made throughout the line-up and no-one went on to make that big total.'' He also admitted that facing spinners was a difficult task in this part of the world.

''The biggest difference in the subcontinent compared to elsewhere is that once you get in you tend to face more spinners, with more pressure from fielders close to the bat.'' ''You have to decide whether it's worth being more positive or whether to hang in and ride the hard times out,'' he said.

Collingwood was also disappointed with the English pacers who could not reverse swing the ball in Mohali, like they had done in the Nagpur Test.

''Another area we've been talking a lot about is reverse swing as we got the ball to reverse very nicely in the first Test. Since then it has not done a lot for us but Munaf Patel managed to find it late in the game in Mohali.''

''We're trying to work out if it has something to do with the number of overs of spin India bowl, roughing the ball up more. There was a lot of overnight rain in the second Test and perhaps that made a difference. We're not too sure but certainly we haven't had as much reverse as we would have liked,'' he said.

Admitting the side was smarting from the defeat in Mohali and would go all out to leave the three-match series in the final Test in Mumbai, Collingwood said, ''We were all devastated to lose that second Test. There was no way you could accuse any member of the side of not putting in 100 per cent effort.''

''But a one-all series scoreline in India would be an excellent result and our aim is still firmly on trying to achieve that,'' he added.

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