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Indian team takes a day off to relax

Indian team takes a day off to relax

The Indian players seem to be in a cheerful mood.

Galle: While India's coach Gary Kirsten on Monday choose to play down team's second Test victory over Sri Lanka by 170 runs, it was a rare day off for the team members - who relaxed by the swimming pool at the beach side hotel before the more serious work of returning to Colombo for the third Test on Tuesday.

Kirsten was in a buoyant mood as he briefly chatted to the touring media but apart from the usual comments of his being "very pleased" and "a great performance from all", the Indian players were cheerful as they chatted. However, they also debated on how to tackle Sri Lanka when the third Test starts at Saravanamuttu Oval on Friday.

About the only place in the side that is under review is that of wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik who has not had the best of series either behind the stumps or as a batsman. And if you recall, Karthik made the succinct comment before the first Test how the Test series gave him a chance to establish himself in the side.

With Mahendra Singh Dhoni taking a break from Test duty, Karthik knew he had a chance to establish himself in the side. But after two Tests the statistics make very poor reading and the two selectors present at Galle could not have been too impressed either.

His two dropped catches of Mahela Jayawardene at the Sinhalese Sports Club off his captain, Anil Kumble, as well as his batting has added to the problem posed by a middle-order still looking for stability to sustain the side.

While Virender Sehwag's impressive double century gave the team motivation as well as momentum against the spins of Muttiah Muralitharan and Ajantha Mendis, few batsmen were able to build on his attacking innings.

A couple of exceptions are Gautam Gambhir in both innings in Galle and Rahul Dravid in his second innings performance of 44 before the referral for an lbw appeal was reminiscent of one of Pakistan umpire Javed Akhtar's five lbw decisions at Leeds in 1998. Kirsten was one of the victims.


Whether he has any thoughts on the Akhtar issue or that of the referral of Dravid with the ball pitching outside the off stump is another matter.

At least Kumble has expressed pertinent views which are likely to find their way to the International Cricket Council when they review the trialling of the referral system. It throws up far too many questions that need to be answered and already former Pakistan swing bowler Waqar Younis has expressed his doubts about its accuracy.

As it is Kumble hinted there were still areas where the Indian team needed to improve and sort out a few technical issues as well as make adjustments before the third and the crucial Test at the historic venue in what is now a low income area of Colombo.

Kumble was more emphatic how as a team, India need to show more improvement in the build up to the third Test. This is where there are some areas where he and the coach were not happy and these would be discussed at team meetings.

He also emphasised again how the three wickets in the 40 minutes before lunch on Sunday was critical for India to maintain pressure on Sri Lanka who had more than five sessions to score the 309 runs needed to win.

He had no complaints about the time spent in Sri Lanka as part of the Test series build up and felt the players had adjusted.

Kumble pointed out how Harbhajan Singh had bowled with much of his old rhythm, while had also changed his strategy which enabled him to take 10 wickets in the match.

Harbhajan, however, also learnt much from the first Test. For a start, bowling around the wicket helped, so did he learn from watching Muttiah Muralitharan in using the southwest breeze which gives the spinner drift and in this he created some quality pressure on the Sri Lankan batsmen.

This much was obvious when after tea on day two, he picked up two quick wickets - opener Malintha Warnapura, who scored a century in the first Test at SSC, and Kumar Sangakkara with 69 runs to his credit and batting with sublime skill.

The switch in tactics obviously helped the off-spinner who bowled with calm, cool concentration that showed he is coming back into form.

The Indians now travel back to Colombo on Tuesday and start two serious days of pre-Test training from Wednesday. Sri Lanka, meanwhile already had left Galle late on Sunday afternoon, indicating there is not much sense in hanging around.

first published:August 04, 2008, 17:53 IST