Pressure will be on Mendis, insists Kumble

Updated: 25 July 2008 09:34 IST

The young mystery bowler will have to prove his worth in the sapping Colombo heat against India's top batsmen, feels Anil Kumble.


The Indian batsmen have done their homework well and Sri Lanka's mystery spinner Ajantha Mendis would feel the heat bowling to a vastly experienced line-up in his debut Test, captain Anil Kumble predicted on Tuesday.

Since he ran through the Indian ODI line-up in the Asia Cup final in Karachi, Mendis has dominated discussions and the Sri Lankans are hoping for a similar effort from the unorthodox spinner in the Test series against India.

Kumble, however, sought to put some pressure on the youngster and said Mendis would find going tough against India's star-studded line-up.

"It's not just Mendis, every bowler is discussed. It's his first Test, let's not forget that. The pressure is on him," Kumble said, implying that the batsmen are well prepared for the Lankan attack.

"As a youngster you are obviously nervous. If you look at our batting strength, most of them have played more than 100 Tests," Kumble said, explaining why Mendis might find it difficult against India.

Rather, Kumble felt India needed to be wary of Sri Lanka's old war horses.

"The two bowlers who have done extremely well over the years are (Muttiah) Muralitharan and (Chaminda) Vaas and we cannot discount that we need to be concerned about them," he said.

Incidentally, Kumble's opposite number Mahela Jayawardene also felt that the media had created a hype around the spin sensation.

Apart from Mendis, the umpire referral system continues to intrigue both the sides even though Kumble says he is comfortable with it.

"It will be helpful for the umpires and the teams as well. This is meant for the obvious errors which happen on the field and it's something we can negate, rather than look at every way to question the umpire," said the veteran leg-spinner.

It's but natural for the umpires to miss things like a faint nick and the referral system would not help them right the wrong, believes Kumble.

"They make mistakes. Sometimes they may not have picked up a certain edge which hits the pad, and you appeal for a leg-before, and it is given out. Those types of referrals may matter and change the course of the game," he said.

Kumble is aware of India's dismal Test record in Sri Lanka and said batsmen would have to put enough runs on the board in the first innings to allow the bowler go and try to take those 20 wickets in trying conditions.

"Here conditions favour the side batting in the second innings but that doesn't mean batsmen can relax in the first or the bowlers try too much. We're looking at how to take 20 wickets in these tough conditions. And of course, we need to put up plenty of runs in the first innings," Kumble said.

"The pitches generally favour the batsmen. We have a lot of knowledge and handy experience and quality, in terms of our combinations," Kumble said.

The energy-sapping conditions here, however, keeps Kumble worried and thinks the players needed to be careful about dehydration.

"In terms of going about our fitness and endurance we have to be careful about dehydration. That's something everybody is aware of," he said.

"That will obviously be a factor in these conditions. All of us are experienced enough to handle this. There are a couple players who have to take extra care and the preparation has already started," he said.

Talking about team composition, Kumble said India would not make any wholesale change to the squad that played the tour match.

"Our final XI will be more or less what we played in the tour match. We're not saying we have an edge over Sri Lanka.

"We need to concentrate on all departments and we're looking at what we're capable of. How we can maximise our potential in batting, bowling and fielding? That is the key. This (the SSC) is a good track, with plenty of runs in it. We will look at a four-bowler combination and we have capable means of picking up 20 wickets," he said.

Topics : Cricket Anil Kumble
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