Kumble plays down Mendis threat

Ahead of the tour to Sri Lanka, Anil Kumble, India’s Test captain, has played down the threat posed by spinner Ajantha Mendis, who scythed through India’s batting in the Asia Cup final earlier this week.

“He must be a tricky bowler. But I cannot see how he can remain a surprise element for very long,” he told the Mumbai Mirror. “To be honest I cannot see how someone like Rahul [Dravid] would not have sorted him out. Rahul would have played straight and not heaved across the line.”

Kumble insisted he had nothing to say on Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s decision to withdraw from the Test series as “it was his (Dhoni’s) personal decision. He knows his mind and body”.

However, he stated he had asked the selectors to pick two specialist wicketkeepers for the tour. “As captain I am aware that there could be problems if the specialist were to pull a muscle or have a runny stomach on the morning of a Test. There was a suggestion Rahul be the second wicketkeeper, but I persuaded the [selection] committee to view things from Indian cricket’s point of view and advantage.

“I contended there was nothing wrong in taking the additional specialist wicketkeeper. I know Rahul would not like to be saddled with such a responsibility.”

When asked whether he rued not getting the captaincy earlier in his career, he said: “After the Australian tour that was riddled with controversies, I told myself that I had handled the most provocative of situations well.

“And maybe in that state of mind, I did think I could have served Indian cricket better had I been offered the captaincy earlier. Apart from Sachin [Tendulkar], I was senior in the team to others. But then these things happen and one has to learn to take these in one’s stride.” He said being made captain on a series-to-series basis did not provide him “much scope to plan”.

India kick off the tour with a three-day warm-up match on July 18


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