Yuvraj will not play the first Test: Kumble
NEW DELHI : Yuvraj Singh may have set the shorter version of the game alight to emerge as India’s middle order mainstay but the dashing left-hander would spend the first Test against Pakistan warming the bench with VVS Laxman in action, hinted captain Anil Kumble.
Addressing his first pre-match press conference as India’s Test captain, a forthright Kumble said it was unfortunate but Yuvraj would have to wait before he became a regular in the Test squad.
“It’s tough to leave him out. He is in tremendous form and is a quality player who is important for the side. But I guess he would have to wait a bit before he becomes a regular member of the Test squad.”
“It’s unfortunate but that’s the way it is. He is a great player and Indian batting would revolve around him in the coming years. He is a pillar of the side but I’m afraid he would have to wait a little,” Kumble said.
Yuvraj, so far, has played just 19 Tests, last being the match against West Indies in 2006.
He also dropped hints that left-arm spinner Murali Kartik may sit out on Thursday.
“I guess it would be me and Harbhajan (Singh) but we would finalise the eleven tomorrow.”
Kumble admitted the side was laid low with S Sreesanth and RP Singh ruled out of the tie, prompting the management to fly in Munaf Patel and ask Delhi pacer Ishant Sharma to quit his Ranji duty and stay with the squad.
“It’s unfortunate that both Sree and RP would miss the match but I think injuries are part and parcel of the game. Munaf has done well in the past and has been in good form in domestic cricket as well. Besides, we have asked Ishant to join the squad”, Kumble said.
“Though we would miss them, I think the side has the quality and depth to go out and win the match,” Kumble said.
Kumble, however, was upbeat with Mahendra Singh Dhoni recovering from the ankle injury he had picked up in Jaipur.
“Well, he looks fine and there seems no problem.” The veteran leggie was confident that his stint as the Test captain would start on a positive note on his happy hunting ground at the Ferozshah Kotla.
“Delhi has been nice to me personally and to the whole side as well. I’m looking forward to a great start here,” said Kumble, who scalped all 10 wickets in a Pakistan innings at the same venue in a memorable 1999 Test match.
Asked if having four skippers – Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and ODI captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni – would make his job difficult, Kumble begged to differ.
“I don’t think so. I have been playing with them for the last 18 years. I’m a positive person and I believe I would get inputs from them as well.”
Kumble also revealed getting inputs from Dhoni who has been in charge in the Twenty20 World Cup, followed by the ODI series against Australia and Pakistan.
“I had an interaction with him. Basically I wanted to know what happened in the last three months when I was not part of the side. As the captain and as a senior cricketer, my job is to share inputs and ensure Indian cricket moves on,” he said.
Kumble refused to read much into the pitch and said despite winning the ODI series, India could not afford to underestimate the traditional rivals.
“I would love to take pitch out of the equation. I mean as player, you do take a look. I think it’s a good, sporting track but instead of thinking about the track, we are planning to do well in the match.
“Pakistan is a good unit and we respect our opposition,” he said.
The visitors would rely on run-machine Mohammad Yousuf and leg-spinner Danish Kaneria to do well in the series and Kumble heaped praise on the Pakistani duo.
“Yousuf is a great player, he has been the most prolific of them over the last few years,” he said.
“Danish is an important bowler for them but I think we have quality batsmen to take care of him. I’ve seen him developing and it’s great to see a fellow leg-spinner doing well. I just hope that he does not do well in the next three matches,” Kumble quipped.
A veteran of 118 Test matches, captaincy came to Kumble at the twilight of his career but the leggie apparently has no complaints.
“It’s a challenge and being a positive person, I think whatever happens, happens at the right time. I think this was the right time for me to take up the challenge,” he said.
Asked if life had changed for him after being the captain, Kumble said, “Well, yes, I’m being asked more questions.”
On a serious note, he said, “On the field, nothing really changes. When I have the ball in my hand, all I’m thinking about is how to get a wicket. As captain, I would be pre-occupied with thoughts like when to bring the changes. So on the field, nothing has really changed.”