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Kumble’s indifferent form a sore point for India

While most of the doubts that hung over the Australians were laid to rest in Bangalore, India go into the Mohali Test with a few prickly questions still unanswered. The foremost would be the form of Anil Kumble, writes Steve Waugh.

cricket Updated: Oct 17, 2008 00:10 IST

While most of the doubts that hung over the Australians were laid to rest in Bangalore, India go into the Mohali Test with a few prickly questions still unanswered. The foremost would be the form of Anil Kumble. It was a disappointing outing for the champion spinner, but he needs to be honest to himself about whether he is fully fit. I have no problems with him having an off game, because that could happen to the best, but if he is not fully fit, he would be doing himself a great disservice by continuing to play.

Harbhajan Singh was also a little below par in Bangalore, and it was the exceptional bowling of Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma that kept India afloat. Mohali is a seamer-friendly track and while the Australians will like that, they must be careful about facing Sharma and Zaheer. India would also be hoping that their spin duo, particularly local boy Harbhajan will also come up with magic.

In the batting department too, there seems to be some spark missing in the middle order. True, Rahul Dravid played well for his 50 in the first innings, but I would like to see him go for his strokes more. I thought Sachin Tendulkar played a crucial knock in the second innings. If he had been dismissed cheaply, there is no doubt in my mind that the rest of the batsmen would have hit the panic button.

After the Bangalore Test, Zaheer observed that he doubted whether this Australian attack could get 20 wickets. If Zaheer intended to spur on the likes of Brett Lee and Mitchell Johnson, he has said the right thing. Such comments are not going to help India's cause, and I wish he would focus on his bowling.

The loss of Stuart Clark to injury would be a blow to Australia, because he has been their most consistent bowler this year.

But Ponting will be looking forward to Mohali now that he has got rid of the 'underperformer in India' tag. He would also be relieved on two counts, that his pacemen were successful against the Indian top order, and that his spinners did as well as their Indian counterparts. His ploy of playing Shane Watson as an all-rounder has also given the team a nice balance.

Ponting, therefore, has not only the self-belief of a captain who is playing well but also the confidence of a leader whose decisions have worked. All this means that he will be going into Friday's game with a lot more confidence and composure than Kumble.