Clark out for Australia; doubt over Kumble

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Australia has lost Stuart Clark to an elbow injury while India will wait until the morning of the match to decide whether Kumble is fit for second Test.

Updated: October 17, 2008 14:45 IST
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Australia has lost paceman Stuart Clark to an elbow injury while India will wait until the morning of the match to decide whether captain Anil Kumble is fit for Friday's second cricket Test.

India must decide whether Kumble's right shoulder can last a full test on a dry surface at the Punjab Cricket Association Ground.

Kumble is out of form after failing in Bangalore to take a wicket in a Test for the first time in India and only the third occasion in his 131-Test career.

He did not bowl Wednesday but had a net session on the eve of the match.

"It's 24 hours before the match, so we'll just wait and see how it responds," he said. "It's a lot better than what it was yesterday."

Clark failed a fitness test Thursday and captain Ricky Ponting said rookie Peter Siddle would come into the side.

"He's only a young bloke," Ponting said. "He's only played 12 first-class games, but as far as his bowling goes, he's ready."

Clark's withdrawal means Australia will field a team featuring four players with five or fewer Test caps, but Ponting, who is taking anti-inflammatory tablets for a minor wrist problem, was not concerned.

"There was a lot made of the inexperience factor coming here, but all those inexperienced guys showed they are more than capable of performing well at international level," Ponting said. "There's no doubt it's easier for us guys who have played a bit, particularly in this part of the world."

India coach Gary Kirsten is tipping Kumble's experience will help him bounce back.

"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 before coming back stronger."

Sachin Tendulkar is another senior Indian player who is stuttering as he attempts to pass Brian Lara's world Test cricket scoring record of 11,953. And he has Kumble's full backing.

"Sachin is such a great player," Kumble said. "We all want him to get there as soon as possible.

"I'm sure he'll get it here. It will be something very special, not just for world cricket, but to have an Indian up there, right on top, is a great honor for all of us.

In three Tests against Sri Lanka during India's previous series Tendulkar managed just 95 runs and collected 13 and 49 in Bangalore, leaving him 14 short of equaling Lara's mark.

"It's a huge milestone to be the leading run-scorer in the history of the game," Ponting said. "Even though he played pretty well in the second innings the other day it never felt like he was going to get away from us at all.

"We know that if we bowl certain ways to him that he won't damage us as much as he has done in the past, but who knows?"

Ponting said he did not expect the pitch, which was under covers due to rain Thursday morning, to offer much support to the fast bowlers.

"I saw the groundsman interviewed on TV and he said he made the wicket to suit their spinners," Ponting said. "It could be a long, hard slog for us in the field. But we're well equipped to cope with these conditions, as we have in the past."

Ponting believes his batsmen showed in the first match they had the skills to deal with India's tweakers.

"The spinners took only 3-350 in the game, showing we can manage their bowlers in these conditions," he said.

He was mindful that his own spinners were young and also not highly effective in Bangalore.

India will also look to upset Australia's new spin attack of legspinner Cameron White and the part-time offerings of Michael Clarke.

"It's something we can look at," Kumble said. "They miss the quality of Shane Warne and Stuart MacGill. In Indian conditions you need a spinner to come into play, if not the first innings, then the second innings."

Despite sharing the honors in Bangalore, both sides have claimed to have the upper hand from the result.

India bowler Zaheer Khan said it was the most defensive he had seen Australia play, but Brett Lee and Ponting maintained only one side - Australia - was trying to win.

India scored 177 in 73 overs on the final day while Australia took only four wickets on a deteriorating, fifth-day pitch.

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