‘We have batsmen to counter Mendis’
India captain Anil Kumble said on Monday he was confident his experienced batsmen will see off the threat posed by spinner Ajantha Mendis in the Test series in Sri Lanka.
The Indian players found Mendis virtually unplayable in the recent Asia Cup final in Karachi, where the spinner grabbed 6-13 with subtle variations to script his team’s emphatic 100-run victory.
“This team has enough experience to handle any threat and spin has never been a problem. However, we are not going to take anyone lightly, let alone Mendis,” Kumble said on the eve of the team’s departure to Sri Lanka.
“We need to respect every bowler. My interaction with some of our players was that they had some difficulty in picking him, but in Test cricket we have a lot more time to get ready.”
Mendis, 23, is likely to make his Test debut against India after giving a good account of himself in eight one-day internationals.
India open the tour with a three-day practice match in Colombo from Friday, the only warm-up game before the three-Test series starts on July 23.
The Indian batting line-up has been bolstered with the return of veterans Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly and Venkatsai Laxman, who were not members of the Asia Cup one-day squad.
“We are well prepared and keen to overcome any challenges,” said Kumble, the third-highest wicket-taker in Tests with 608 after Sri Lankan Muttiah Muralitharan (735) and retired Australian spinner Shane Warne (708).
“As a Test team we have really performed well in the last year or so. We have been consistent. I am sure we will be able to put up a good show and ensure a series win. We have the potential to win the series.”
The Kumble-led side gave a stiff fight to Australia before losing an away four-Test series 2-1 in January.
He led in two more series, winning against Pakistan last year and drawing against South Africa in April at home.
All eyes will be on Tendulkar, who is just 172 short of breaking retired West Indies captain Brian Lara’s world record of 11,953 Test runs.
“We always feel proud that one of our team-mates is going to cross a landmark. But, the most important factor is that we go there and ensure a series victory. That will be on top of everybody’s mind,” said Kumble.
“I am sure that at some point of time, Sachin will cross the landmark. It will be a huge achievement not just for him, but also for Indian cricket. He is confident. He has come back fully fit from a groin injury.”
India lost 2-1 on their last Test tour of Sri Lanka in 2001, with Tendulkar and Kumble both unavailable due to injuries.
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