India in Sri Lanka 2008 August 23, 2008

Middle order has performed well for over a decade - Kumble

Cricinfo staff

Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar together averaged 18.38 from 18 innings in Sri Lanka © AFP

Anil Kumble, India's Test captain, has backed his senior middle-order batsmen against criticisms on their poor performance on the Sri Lanka tour. Kumble said it was harsh since they had been performing over the last decade. "This was the first series they could not perform," Kumble said of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly.

Kumble said it was unfair to include Laxman in the list since he had performed well. In the three Tests, Laxman scored 215 at 43, with two half-centuries while the other three combined to score 339 at 18.83, with one half-century between them.

"Sourav and Rahul were having it tough, but you cannot write them off," Kumble said. "They have done so much for Indian cricket in the last 15 years. Agreed they failed in this Test series but it happens in cricket. We should not forget their past contribution."

Kumble also praised Sri Lankan bowler Ajantha Mendis' accuracy, variety and trajectory. He said he had told Mendis to add variations to his bowling so he would not become predictable. "I knew that if I kept improving and added several variations, I would be able to dominate batsmen. Mendis will also go through such a stage when he would have to add a few tricks and variations so that he does not become predictable."

"From the moment I started, I did not spin the ball much, but I had variations and one needs to capture wickets to remain in the team. I bowl according to my strength."

Kumble looked ahead to India's upcoming series against Australia. "There is a month left now before Australia comes in and we need to have match practice and gain some confidence."