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India v Sri Lanka, 3rd Test, Ahmedabad

'Kumble is one of the greats', says Chappell

Dileep Premachandran in Ahmedabad

December 17, 2005

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Praise from the coach: 'Dennis Lillee was a great competitor. Anil is right up there with him' © Getty Images
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After first announcing that he had no intention of discussing that selectorial decision, Greg Chappell sat down to discuss India's preparation for this vital Test - even a draw will take them to No.2 in the ICC Test table, ahead of England. He was hopeful that Rahul Dravid, his captain, might be able to shake off the illness that saw him hospitalised, and fullsome in his praise for Anil Kumble, who stands on the threshold of his 100th Test.

Chappell

On the Dravid situation

We would love him to play, and are still hopeful. He sounded pretty good last night when I spoke to him, but then things got worse. I don't like to think of worst-case situations, but we have good back-up within the squad.

On Kumble's 100th Test

He's not only one of the greatest that India has produced, but one of the greats - a much under-rated bowler. He's a great competitor and has terrific control. He hardly bowled a bad ball right through the match in Delhi. He has very subtle variations and is not a great turner of the ball, which is probably why he's so under-rated. He has both consistency and persistence. When I was playing, Dennis Lillee was a great competitor. Anil is right up there with him.

On the pitch

It looks pretty good. There'll be some runs in it. It'll be a battle of wits much like the Delhi game was. Whoever has more patience will do well, whether that's batsmen or bowlers.

On the team approach to the game, leading 1-0 in the series

I've never been happy to sit on a lead. We'll go out there and play positive cricket, and try to win every Test we play.

On Wasim Jaffer

He looks good. I've never seen him before except for a brief while on TV. He'll well-organised and has a simple method. I can see him acquitting himself well if and when he's given the chance.

On Murali Kartik going back to play a Ranji Trophy game

There was no point in him sitting here. It's better for his career if he gets some match-practice.

On the Pathan opening gambit

We decided based on the conditions and circumstances. He has struggled against spin in two previous innings, and we felt that it was a risk that was warranted. On that occasion, it came off. It won't every time, but when an opportunity presents itself, we might try similar things.

I also thought that Rahul Dravid was very bold and brave to take on the task in the first innings. And it was just as courageous of him to come it at No.5 in the second innings. The ball wasn't coming on, and it wasn't easy to bat against the soft old ball.

On Gambhir's poor run

Very few players go through a career without some lean patches. Almost always, those are the best learning periods, where you find out the most about yourself. Gautam's been there and done that - he's scored a Test hundred, and also made a century in ODIs recently. The discussion over whether he should open for us tomorrow should be a short one. We want him to get some runs, and this looks a good track to do it on.

On how different the batsmen handled Murali in the second innings at Delhi

We were a lot more positive in the second innings. I heard that he had some problems then, but we also felt that we had allowed him to bowl as he liked in the first innings. But you can't afford to focus too much on one bowler, though in these conditions, he's very much the danger man.

Dileep Premachandran is features editor of Cricinfo

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Dileep Premachandran Associate editor Dileep Premachandran gave up the joys of studying thermodynamics and strength of materials with a view to following in the footsteps of his literary heroes. Instead, he wound up at the Free Press Journal in Mumbai, writing on sport and politics before Gentleman gave him a column called Replay. A move to MyIndia.com followed, where he teamed up with Sambit Bal, and he arrived at ESPNCricinfo after having also worked for Cricket Talk and total-cricket.com. Sunil Gavaskar and Greg Chappell were his early cricketing heroes, though attempts to emulate their silken touch had hideous results. He considers himself obscenely fortunate to have watched live the two greatest comebacks in sporting history - India against invincible Australia at the Eden Gardens in 2001, and Liverpool's inc-RED-ible resurrection in the 2005 Champions' League final. He lives in Bangalore with his wife, who remains astonishingly tolerant of his sporting obsessions.
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