Kumble reveals his game plan

Published: Tuesday, March 25, 2008, 14:09 [IST]
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Chennai: India hope to bombard South Africa with mammoth first-innings totals in the three-Test series starting on Wednesday, captain Anil Kumble said.

"The key is to post big scores and let the bowlers put pressure on the visiting batsmen," Kumble said on Tuesday ahead of the first Test at Chidambaram stadium here.

"It is a game plan that has worked well for us in the past, both at home and abroad, and there is no reason why we can't do that again.

"We have the batsmen who produce good scores on any sort of wicket and I expect the same from them again," said Kumble.

The 37-year-old, who will lead the spin attack alongside Harbhajan Singh, said the brown, grassless wicket produced for the first Test was a "typical Chennai" track.

"It's always been the same here," said Kumble. "It will be good for batting for the first two days and then the spinners will definitely will come into play.

"The hot and humid weather will affect both teams, but I suppose we are more used to it than the South Africans."

India plan to play six specialist batsmen with wicket-keeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni coming in at number seven, followed by two seamers and as many spinners.

"There is a thought that we play five bowlers, but then we also have (Virender) Sehwag, Sachin (Tendulkar) and Sourav (Ganguly) to chip in with useful spells," said Kumble.

The Indian captain, who will be formally congratulated by the Indian board later on Tuesday for surpassing the 600-wicket mark on the recent Australian tour, said his team was keen to build on the gains made there.

Kumble's men returned as heroes after losing the acrimonious Test series 2-1 but denying the hosts a world record 17th successive win with a memorable triumph in Perth.

Dhoni's young one-day squad then defeated Ricky Ponting's team 2-0 in the tri-series finals, indicating India had turned the corner after an embarrassing first-round World Cup exit last year.

"We know South Africa are a very competitive side, but we can win if we play to our potential and maintain the intensity for all five days," Kumble said.

"We want to maintain our number two position in the Test rankings. We have worked hard to get there and want to stay there for as long as we can.

"For that we have to play well each session, each day of a Test match."

India, coached for the first time by former South African opener Gary Kirsten, will bank on veterans Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Ganguly and Venkatsai Laxman to realise Kumble's plans.

Tendulkar, 34, could end the series as Test cricket's leading batsman, needing only 172 more to overtake retired West Indian Brian Lara's world record tally of 11,953 runs.

The "Little Master" is already the top one-day batsman with 16,361 runs and holds the world record of 39 Test and 42 one-day centuries.

There is good news for the cricket afficiandos from the weather front, which has been posing a threat to the contest in the wake of formation of a low pressure area yesterday. Met officials said that the low pressure over the Gulf of Mannar, which promised more rains, has weakened, and the city would have generally clear skies.

The mood in the Indian camp is buoyant, especially after taming the Aussies in their own den by winning the tri-series.

The absence of Ishant Sharma, the find of the Aussie series, and Zaheer Khan due to injuries, meant that the new ball attack would be shared by Sreesanth and R P Singh.

However, the final eleven was expected to be announced after analysing the conditions tomorrow morning.

The first Test here will be followed by back-to-back matches in Ahmedabad (April 3-7) and Kanpur (April 11-15).

Probable India XI: Anil Kumble (capt), Wasim Jaffer, Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Venkatsai Laxman, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wicket-keeper), Shanthakumaran Sreesanth, Rudra Pratap Singh, Harbhajan Singh.

South Africa (from): Graeme Smith (Capt), Neil Mckenzie, Ashwell Prince, Hashim Amla, Mark Boucher, AB de Villiers, J P Duminy, Paul Harris, Jacques Kallis, Mondeki Zondeki, Morne Morkel, Makhaya Ntini, Robin Peterson, Dale Steyn.

Umpires: Tony Hill, Asad Rauf; Third Umpire: A M Saheba.

Fourth Umpire: S K Tarapore Match Referee: Roshan Mahanama.

Hours of Play (IST): 0930 hrs to 1130 hrs; 1210 hrs to 1410 hrs, 1430 hrs to 1630 hrs.

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