Kohli can fit in at No. 3 for Tests, says Kumble

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Published: Friday, March 23, 2012, 14:08 [IST]
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Nobody can replace Rahul Dravid: Kumble

Bangalore, Mar 23: Former India captain Anil Kumble feels young batsman Virat Kohli has the "right game" to fit in at the number three slot in the Indian Test team, however he said it is impossible to replace batting legend Rahul Dravid.

"I have followed Virat closely since his India U-19 days and he has matured a lot. I am impressed in the manner he has improved in the past one year in terms of game, discipline and overall fitness", Kumble said.

"He has quickly adapted to rigours of international cricket and for a 23-year-old to do that is phenomenal. He has a Test hundred in Australia and I believe he has the right game to fit in at No. 3," the legendary leg-spinner said in an interview on Thursday.

"However, there is no one who can replace Rahul Dravid. He has been an achiever for past 16 years and it's certainly not easy to score 23,000 international runs," Kumble added.

Kumble feels playing consistently in the longer version of the game can help youngsters perform well in ODIs and Twenty20s.

"If you are able to consistently perform in longer version, which performance would help you do well in T20s and One-days but it's never the other way round," he explained.

Talking about young leg-spinner Rahul Sharma, who has played only five games (3 ODIs and 3 T20s) overseas, Kumble said it was a tricky situation.

"It's again the 'chicken and egg' theory. You need to bowl lot of overs in matches but again you need to pick your best squad. Ideally, it would have been great had Rahul played a few first-class matches but problem nowadays is lack of tour games. When I went to England in 1990, we had nine first-class tour games apart from 2 ODIs and 3 Tests. Everyone got a chance which is not the case now.

"Thankfully, the players during international matches at home are released to play Ranji Trophy. That's how likes of Ajinkya (Rahane) and Rohit (Sharma) got to play for Mumbai."

Kumble was not willing to share his brief stint as chairman of National Cricket Academy in Bangalore. He resigned as NCA chairman in December last year.

"I don't want to talk about that phase. I wanted to do a few things but we were not on the same page but NCA has done a lot of good for Indian cricket. It's because of NCA that we have brilliant fielders like Virat, Suresh Raina, Manoj Tiwary to name a few."

The BCCI wants Ranji Trophy matches to be played at neutral venues but Kumble for one wants cricket to be shifted to smaller centres which will produce good competitive wickets.

"Recently during a one-day match Goa and Karnataka, I entered the stadium at around 11:30 and saw 55 for two on board. I thought match must have started late and then realised it was over. Just because it was a bit more challenging surface, batsmen couldn't cope with it.

"Now if you produce a turning track and match is over within two days, people raise questions. But what about the batsmen's ability to face quality spinners on turning tracks," he concluded.


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