India v Australia, 2nd Test, Mohali October 15, 2008

Kirsten unworried by Kumble's poor show

Cricinfo staff

Gary Kirsten: "I'm almost sure that regardless of what he [Kumble] is physically, he would be ready to represent the country" © AFP

Gary Kirsten, the India coach, has said he is not worried about Anil Kumble's wicketless show in Bangalore, which was only the third occasion the bowler had failed to take any in a Test, and the first time in India.

"We don't look at one Test, but over a long period of time," Kirsten said. "Kumble is one of the greatest Indian cricketers ever. A great player struggles [momentarily] before coming back stronger. Kumble has been doing the same for 17 years and I believe he would come up with a match-winning performance here." Kumble hit out at the media's "uncharitable" comments on his fitness, calls for retirement, and his performance as a player and captain in his newspaper column on Wednesday.

Kirsten was hopeful that Kumble will recover in time for the second Test in Mohali starting Friday. Kumble injured his shoulder last week during the Bangalore Test which forced him to bat down the order and bowl only eight overs in Australia's second innings.

"We are watching him and at the moment he looks alright. There's a little pain but we hope he will be ready in two days. He is a warrior and is very keen to play. I'm almost sure that regardless of what he is physically, he would be ready to represent the country."

Twenty-four of the 30 wickets that fell in the first Test went to fast bowlers and Kirsten said it was exciting to see pace bowlers dominate a match in India. He praised Zaheer Khan's Man-of-the-Match performance but also warned that India needed to be careful against Brett Lee. "I think what makes him [Zaheer] such a force is that he has tremendous belief in himself, which helps any player. He has got great variations, knows which ball is to be bowled to which batsman."

Kirsten was happy with India's performance in the first Test where the team salvaged a draw after batting out the fifth day. "Most made some contributions to the side, they were not big scores but still some sort of contribution and that too in pressure situations. Even from my playing days, I have never seen such unity and togetherness in an Indian team. They are eager to win the Test series against Australia.

"We had a great preparation and I think the greatest catalyst was the fact that we are playing the world's number one team. Everyone is talking about the team and not individual records. This Indian side firmly believes they can beat Australia."