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We will field seven batsmen in first Test, says Kumble

cricket Updated: Mar 25, 2008 14:32 IST

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Indian captain Anil Kumble said he would rely on the tried and tested formula of seven batsmen and four bowlers in the first cricket Test against South Africa here tomorrow.

Kumble said though the playing eleven was yet to be decided, he would like to field two spinners.

"We are going to have two spinners. Playing eleven is not decided. But as of now we are looking at two (medium pacers) and two (spinners). We have Sourav, Sehwag and Sachin who can fill in as bowlers. We will see," Kumble told mediapersons here today.

Kumble said Virender Sehwag and Wasim Jaffer would open the innings for the home side.

"Yes. Wasim will definitely be there in playing eleven. There is no injury issues to any of our players in the team."

Kumble said they would be keen to snatch a series win against South Africa as that would help them maintain their second position in the ICC rankings.

"It will be the first step to ensure that we keep the good work done in Australia. This is the beginning of a long season of Test Cricket. Every session counts. It is important to do that.

"We are all geared up, we have to go out there and ensure we do our best. We did that throughout in Australia. We are really confident. If we win the series, it will be the beginning in the direction to retain the No..2 spot."

Kumble said the home team would try to put big totals on the board and apply pressure on the visitors.

"We have been able to post big scores. That will be the key. That has been our advantage. It is important to bat well. We have the hatting capabilities and I am confident of posting a big score. Once you do that, it is easy for the bowlers to apply pressure. This is how we have won matches in the past."

On the pitch, Kumble said, "The wicket looks good. It is a good surface, a typical Chennai wicket with good bounce and carry. As the game progresses, it should help spinners. Under these hot conditions, I don't think moisture will be a factor."

Stating that the Proteas would miss the services of Shaun Pollock, Kumble said, "but as a unit they have done well in the last couple of seasons in the sub-continent. So you should give them the credit and respect. They have always been a competitive side and have done well in the past. Morkel, Nitini and Kallis together are a good bowling unit."

Asked to react to Mark Boucher's statement yesterday that 'sledging cannot be totally eliminated' and whether he had received any letter from the ICC on the issue, the Indian skipper said, "We did not receive any letter. We are all capable and responsible enough to understand where the line is. I am sure cricket will be played in the right manner.

"As for Boucher's comments, everybody understands that. It is always good to have a healthy battle on the field. Everybody understands whatever happens on the field it should remain on the field. We are all mature enough to understand that. We will ensure that in the series and in future series as well."

On cases where players fail to draw the line, Kumble said "No, I don't think so. The match referee is there to handle those situations. Sometimes you have to go and meet the match referee. It happens at the heat of the moment, we still have time for the referees meeting. We will go by ICC rules."

He also said that the team members had a few good sessions and workshops with Paddy Upton, the mental conditioning expert of the side, who has been chatting with individual players on one-on-one basis.

On the lack of a warm-up match, he said "we have played enough cricket. Even those who have not played ODIs in Australia, have played in Deodhar. As for me, I always believe a break really helps you."

About the burnout of players due to excessive cricket, Kumble said, "It is important to keep the balance of rest and cricket. We have done that. Everybody is up well. We could see the intensity during the practice session.

"Nowadays everyone understands the need to be intense. I am really confident that the team will do well on all five days. Heat will be a factor. But we are capable of handling that. We are not worried about the work load."

Probable India XI:

Anil Kumble (capt), Wasim Jaffer, Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Venkatsai Laxman, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wicket-keeper), Shanthakumaran Sreesanth, Rudra Pratap Singh, Harbhajan Singh.