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Virat Kohli fit to be No. 3 but nobody can replace Dravid: Kumble

Former captain Anil Kumble reckons that Virat Kohli has the "right game" to fit in at the crucial number 3 slot in the Indian Test team even though it will be impossible for anyone to step into Rahul Dravid's shoes.

"I have followed Virat closely since his India U-19 days and he has matured a lot. I am impressed in the manner he has improved in the past one year in terms of game, discipline and overall fitness", Kumble said.

"He has quickly adapted to rigours of international cricket and for a 23-year-old to do that is phenomenal. He has a Test hundred in Australia and I believe he has the right game to fit in at No 3," the former Indian captain said in an interview on Thursday.

Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli. Pic/AFP 

"However, there is no one who can replace Rahul Dravid. He has been an achiever for past 16 years and it's certainly not easy to score 23,000 international runs," Kumble added.

Kumble paid glowing tributes to Sachin Tendulkar for achieving the historic feat of scoring 100 international centuries, saying he could quickly adapt to different conditions which was the hallmark of a great player.

"I have been a witness to 80 of those 100 hundreds and atleast on 20 occasions, I have been at the other end. I would invariably arrive when he would be in his 80's and the second new-ball would be due. My job on each and every occasion was to ensure that I don't give my wicket easily which would help him to get his hundred."

Rahul Dravid
Rahul Dravid. Pic/Getty Images

Tendulkar after completing his 100th ton had recollected a funny incident during his highest Test score of 248 in Bangladesh involving him and Kumble when both had some horrible mix-ups.

"Don't talk about it. I still get embarrassed when I watch the footages of that match," he smiled.

"Thankfully, the players during international matches at home are released to play Ranji Trophy. That's how likes of Ajinkya (Rahane) and Rohit (Sharma) got to play for Mumbai."

Kumble was reluctant to about his brief one-year stint as the chairman of National Cricket Academy in Bangalore. He resigned from the post in December last year.

"I don't want to talk about that phase. I wanted to do a few things but we were not on the same page but NCA has done a lot of good for Indian cricket. It's because of NCA that we have brilliant fielders like Virat, Suresh Raina, Manoj Tiwary to name a few."

The BCCI wants Ranji Trophy matches to be played at neutral venues but Kumble for one wants cricket to be shifted to smaller centres which will produce good competitive wickets.

"Recently during a one-day match Goa and Karnataka, I entered the stadium at around 11:30 and saw 55 for two on board. I thought match must have started late and then realised it was over. Just because it was a bit more challenging surface, batsmen couldn't cope with it.

"Now if you produce a turning track and match is over within two days, people raise questions. But what about the batsmen's ability to face quality spinners on turning tracks," he concluded.

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