Injury cloud over second India-Australia Test

Published: Thursday, October 16, 2008, 17:19 [IST]
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Anil Kumble's fitness remained a worry for India as Australia grappled with injury problems of their own heading into the second Test here on Friday.

Kumble, the inspirational Indian skipper who turns 38 on Friday, said he was hopeful of playing but would take a final call only on the morning of the match.

"It (injury) is definitely a lot better than what it was yesterday," the leg-spinner said at a media conference at the Punjab Cricket Association stadium on Thursday.

"I bowled some overs in the nets today. There are still 24 hours to go for the match and we will take a final call on my availability tomorrow morning.

The veteran bowler was saddled by poor form and fitness in the drawn first Test in Bangalore where he toiled for 51 wicketless overs, triggering a debate on whether it was time for him to retire.

Kumble, India's most successful bowler ever with 616 wickets from 131 Tests, hit back at his critics and declared he would quit on his own terms.

Australia, seeking to go 1-0 up in the four-Test series, were coping with the injury-induced absence of frontline bowler Stuart Clark.

Clark failed to recover from a sore elbow joint and was replaced by uncapped 23-year-old paceman Peter Siddle who has taken 43 wickets from 12 first-class games.

Siddle's inclusion would mean Australia having four squad members who have played less than five Tests.

All-rounder Shane Watson and wicketkeeper Brad Haddin have played four Tests while spinner Cameron White made his debut in Bangalore.

Australian captain Ricky Ponting, however, dismissed the inexperienced tag.

"A lot has been made about inexperience in our ranks leading to the first Test," he said.

"But all these inexperienced guys showed they are more than capable of holding their own at the international level. Of course it helps if you have played some cricket in this part of the world.

"But we have 11 players now and we have to think about them."

Ponting said he hoped his bowlers would deny Sachin Tendulkar his impending milestone. Tendulkar needs just 15 runs to overtake West Indian Brian Lara's tally of 11,953 runs and become the world's highest Test run getter.

"Sachin is a great player. The way he batted in the second innings in Bangalore showed he still has the hunger. Hopefully our bowlers will deny him those runs. But if he gets there, we will all congratulate him."

Ponting's confidence in his bowlers stemmed from the fact that the Mohali track has usually assisted seam bowling.

"The rain overnight has watered the track a bit and hopefully our seamers will have more bounce and carry," he said.

Australia (likely XI): Ricky Ponting (capt), Matthew Hayden, Simon Katich, Michael Hussey, Michael Clarke, Shane Watson, Brad Haddin, Cameron White, Brett Lee, Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle.

India (from): Anil Kumble (capt), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Venkatsai Laxman, Mahendra Dhoni, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma, Amit Mishra, Munaf Patel.

Umpires: Rudi Koertzen (RSA) and Asad Rauf (PAK)

Third umpire: Amish Saheba (IND)

Match referee: Chris Broad (ENG)

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