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It will have to be a combined effort from all the bowlers: Anil Kumble

India's skipper on 2008 tour of the Emerald Isles, Anil Kumble reckons pacers will also have a major say in India vs Sri Lanka Test series, which begins at Galle next week

Anil Kumble, who led India during the 2008 three-Test series in Sri Lanka, reckons pace will play a crucial role as well in the Emerald Isles. Mohammed Azharuddin’s 1993 tourists are the only Indian side to win a Test series in Sri Lanka.

Also read: Indian bowlers impress in drawn game against Sri Lanka President's XI

Pic/Getty Images
Anil Kumble. Pic/Getty Images

Kumble played his part by claiming eight wickets in the SSC Colombo Test, which India won by 235 runs. The India vs Sri Lanka Test series opens at the paradise town of Galle on Wednesday.

“Spin will play a major role, but I also feel the fast bowlers will have to do their bit. We’ve seen Ishant Sharma’s recent performance. He’s done well in Sri Lanka. He also bowled brilliantly in the Test we won at Galle when I was captain (in 2008). It’s important that when fast bowlers hit the deck and bowl in good areas/good lengths, they seem to get good seam movement.

It’s not just about spinners, it’s about the entire bowling attack that will have to be backed. I am confident that it’s not just going to be spinner-friendly wickets and I guess it will have to be a combined effort from all the bowlers,” said Bangalore-based Kumble on Saturday, on the eve of his 25th anniversary of his Test debut – against England at Manchester in 1990.

Ishant claimed five for 23 in the first innings of India’s drawn tour game against Sri Lanka President’s XI which ended in Colombo on Saturday. He went wicketless in the second innings. In 2008, while Sri Lanka were chasing 307 for victory, Ishant sent back Basnayake Warnapura, Mahela Jayawardene and Tillekeratne Dilshan to help bowl out the Lankans for 136.

Sri Lanka lost a rare home Test series last month when Pakistan beat then 2-1. Yet, Kumble reckoned they’d be hard to beat: “People tend to think it might be a bit easier now, but no. Any team at home is challenging. They said the same thing about Australia going to England and winning the Ashes.

You can see the trend of home teams dominating.” Kumble agreed that the Galle Test of 2008 is probably a good template to winning in Sri Lanka. “It’s not going to be easy but that’s perhaps the template where you need to score, you need good shots from your openers, early breakthroughs from your fast bowlers and your spinners coming to the party,” said Kumble.

Over to the scoreboard. India scored 329 in the first innings with Sehwag contributing an unbeaten 201 and putting on 167 with fellow opener Gautam Gambhir. Mystery spinner Ajantha Mendis claimed 6 for 117.

Sri Lanka responded with 292 all out and were tormented by Harbhajan Singh (6 for 102) and Kumble (3 for 81). Half centuries from Sehwag and Gambhir helped India score 269 in the second innings before the hosts were bowled out for 136 for India to win by 170 runs.

25 years ago...
On this day in 1990, Anil Kumble made his Test debut against England at Manchester. Kumble went on to claim 619 Test wickets — the third highest Test wicket-taker in the history of the game

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