Kumble lauds bowlers' relentless pursuit

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‘Jayant’s debut augers well’ – Kumble

A dry pitch – especially so in the good and full length areas – is set to be rolled out in Mohali for the third Test of the series, which India lead 1-0. The expectation is that it would be spin-friendly, like it was against South Africa last year.

There was a time when fast bowlers would look forward to matches at the PCA stadium. There was a time when it was the fastest and bounciest track in the country. India’s current coach Anil Kumble was part of a few of them. He was one of Dion Nash’s six victims in 1999, when New Zealand bundled India for 83. Javagal Srinath returned the kindness with 6 for 45 in a drawn game.

Courtney Walsh and Kenny Benjamin decimated India here in 1994. The Wisden report read: “Only [Navjot Singh] Sidhu was out, but [Manoj] Prabhakar was led off after one over, his nose broken by a ball from Walsh that burst through his helmet grille. That made the Indian batsmen uneasy, especially on a pitch which continued to play true; it retained some bounce to the end and the ball moved in the morning”

Those days, however, are firmly in the past. The last Test played in Mohali was on a pitch that spun from day one, while in the most recent first-class match, Delhi piled on 495 in their first innings in a drawn game against Odisha..

“It has certainly gone a lot slower to what it probably used to be in the 90’s,” Kumble said. “But having said that, I am someone who certainly does not give too much importance to the conditions. We need to play good cricket. I certainly believe that we played good cricket, both in Rajkot and in Vizag. That’s why we are 1-0 ahead in the series. We will have to do that again, repeat that again in Mohali, no matter what the conditions are. Like I have said over the years, I think it has certainly gone slightly slower, not necessarily the way it used to be in the early 90s.”

The cooler climate would be a welcome relief for the bowlers though and there may be some sideways movement in the first half hour, but when there is so little grass on the surface, “you can’t expect it to do too much for the seamers,” said England’s Chris Woakes.

As such, btoh sides may be tempted to continue with three spinners. India certainly had great success with Jayant Yadav, who Kumble felt had a “dream debut” in Visakhapatnam. “As a youngster coming into this team, he showed a lot of character, a lot of maturity although he was playing his first match, in the way handled batting with the lower order.

“Even in the second innings, batting with Shami and getting those 30-40 runs right at the end showed a lot of maturity. The way he bowled was quite impressive. It really augurs well for Indian cricket that someone who has just come into the team has really shown that kind of a approach.”

Kumble was also “very impressed” with the way India’s bowlers have handled their workloads without compromising on their disciplines. “It was not easy because they bowled close to 240 overs in Rajkot and within three days, in the last Test match, the bowlers bowled almost 200 overs,” he said. “It’s never easy going back-to-back even if you have five bowlers, but still the effort and they way the responded and the way they went about being very relentless in pursuit to go out there and win was very evident.”

Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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