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All has not been lost for us: Kumble

It was a disappointment the way we let Sri Lanka off the hook with our fielding, said India skipper Anil Kumble, on the first Test.

cricket Updated: Jul 28, 2008 12:17 IST
Hindustan Times
Sri Lanka

It was a disappointment the way we let Sri Lanka off the hook with our fielding. Having picked up a couple of early wickets and having them at 57 for 2 after being asked to bowl first, we had a chance to put them under pressure but we dropped some important catches.

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If you look at the way Sri Lanka went about the game they had a pretty much perfect Test match. They got 600 on the board and then finished off both Indian batting innings in a day and a quarter. The two spinners operating in tandem bowled really well, complementing each other.

Ajantha Mendis, even though he was on debut, bowled tight and kept up the pressure. This meant that Muttiah Muralitharan, who is anyway a handful, became that much more dangerous.

There has been some suggestion that we were concentrating only on Mendis but I can tell you that's not true. Even before the start of the Test I did mention that Murali and Chaminda Vaas are the important bowlers and that has not changed. It was only that we were repeatedly asked about Mendis in media conferences.

When we answered those questions probably the focus was on him. Having played against Sri Lanka for many years now we knew that Murali and Vaas were the ones to watch out for. Mendis is an exciting development for spin in world cricket but Murali is already a champion bowler.

Having said that the Sri Lankans bowled well, the way we batted was disappointing.

To lose 20 wickets in less than 120 overs was not something you can explain away, especially losing 14 wickets on Saturday in just 72.5 overs. It was a Test match to forget for us and definitely not the kind of start you look for getting into a series.

We now have to spend the next couple of days thinking about how we can take things forward and the kind of preparation that is needed. People were raising questions about us not playing more warm-up matches before the Test series and our preparation but that was not the problem. What is crucial is attitude and character and we didn't show that in this Test match. We will come out strong, it's not as though all has been lost.

Four of Sri Lanka's batsmen scored centuries and in contrast we had just one fifty from two innings. This clearly does not reflect quality we have in the batting line-up and the same goes for the bowling. You need to score centuries and take five-fors to win Test matches and we have to think seriously of how we can achieve that. It's important to keep the focus and intensity. We've had a poor game but we now need to look ahead.

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