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India-England prepare as the next Test closes in

 Agencies |  2016-12-07 23:41:46.0  |  Mumbai

India-England prepare as the next Test closes in

Don’t pinpoint Vijay’s short-ball dismissals, urges Anil Kumble

India's chief coach Anil Kumble feels that it is “unfair” to pinpoint senior opener Murali Vijay”s recent spate of dismissals to “short deliveries” as his “weakness”.

“Vijay has been one of our most consistent batsmen in the last couple of years. He has started off the series very well with a 100 at Rajkot and yes, he has got out to similar deliveries, which probably you can start pinpointing as his weakness, but I don’t think that’s fair. He is someone we believe is just round the corner to get a big score,” Kumble was firmly behind the seasoned opener.

The coach said that the team management is trying to help him out during nets, but there was no need to delve deeper into the issue. “When we go out there at the nets, we try and help him (Vijay) with that kind of delivery. But I don’t think we need to go too deep into why he’s getting out that way. It’s just a matter of time where he will start scoring runs. We certainly believe it’s just round the corner.”

India's opening woes have continued in this home season with Shikhar Dhawan losing form and then getting injured. KL Rahul had an injury lay-off while Gautam Gambhir also failed miserably. Kumble said he is happy for the fact that the team has been doing well without a settled opening pair.

“That's not in our control as injuries are part and parcel of the game. Ideally yes, we would like a settled pair, but I think under the circumstances we have done really well. Unfortunately (KL) Rahul got injured (shoulder) while fielding in Vizag (in the second Test against England). Parthiv (Patel) came in the last game (at Mohali) and did a fantastic job,” said Kumble, ahead of the fourth game of the series against England commencing here two days later.

"We had three different opening pairs against New Zealand (in the previous home series won by India 3-0) and even in the West Indies (Murali) Vijay got injured. Then Shikhar (Dhawan) got injured against New Zealand. Gautam had a freak injury in Indore against New Zealand, but he could bat. So I think something is happening with openers in terms of injury and I hope that it does not go on. There should be some stop at some stage,” he said.

Kumble was all praise for the bowlers and also the astute captaincy by Virat Kohli with his immaculate field placing.

“It is a tribute to our bowling attack and field placements Virat has set as captain. And also bowl in partnerships according to the field. In the last few Test matches, all bowlers have had significant roles, either in getting just that one break-through or picking up a fifer (Ravichandran) Ashwin did that. That there has been only one five-for in the series goes to show all bowlers have contributed really well. We hope we are able to continue irrespective of surfaces — all three surfaces were different. We changed those lengths, adjusted accordingly and also bowled aggressively.”

Kumble, however, refused to be drawn into a comparison between Indian pace duo of Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami with England attack.

“I am not someone who likes to compare. For me, the two fast bowlers have been brilliant right through I have come back as coach from the West Indies. Not just those two, but Bhuvi (Bhuvneshar Kumar) and Ishant (Sharma) too. All of them have contributed significantly. Credit to Umesh and Shami. We are constantly monitoring their workload — especially Shami, who has come back after a gap of 18 months, it’s not easy for any cricketer. It is important these guys are given enough breaks. What is really creditable is the way they have come back and bowled in the last hour of the day their third or probably fourth spells really rattling batsmen and picking up wickets.”

He also praised the lower-order led by Ashwin for contributing with the bat too.

“I was really pleased with the three spinners when they each contributed with a fifty when we were under pressure at 150 for five. Scoring 400 from that position was pleasing. I was really pleased for (Ravindra) Jadeja as well because he's someone who is really capable of scoring big runs. Jayant (Yadav) — if you look at him you don't really think he is playing in only his second Test match (at Mohali). Ashwin has led the way of helping the lower order realize their potential,” the coach explained.

He, however, did not totally agree with the view of former India captain Dilip Vengsarkar that the extra work put in by players in gymnasium led to injuries.

“All I can say is that the fitness parameter of the current Indian team is the best that has ever been. I played in the 1990's when fitness and strength conditioning were personal and not team choices. Post 2000, the culture changed and you can see the difference now; it’s part and parcel of team. Injuries are part and parcel and it has all been cricketing injuries. It’s something you have to live with. The good thing is the Indian team has stood up and people who have come in have really contributed to the success,” he said.

Jennings admits pressure, hopeful of England's response

Uncapped opener Keaton Jennings, on Tuesday, conceded that England is under pressure after being 0-2 down in the five-Test series against India but said he is hopeful that his side will throw some punches back at the hosts in the fourth game starting here on Thursday.

“It’s pressure but I have always been taught that pressure is a privilege, sort of a thing my dad tried to infuse into me as a kid. I like to think that I bring positive energy and a smile to the group. I am generally quite a happy guy. But again, it’s 2-0 down and gets into a tougher position. So, hopefully we can throw a few jibes and throw some punches back,” said Jennings here ahead of the must-win game for England.

Jennings, son of well-known coach Ray Jennings, is South Africa-born and has qualified to play for his adopted country following a four-year residence in England. He has replaced teenage opener Haseem Hameed, who is out of the remainder of the series with a finger fracture.

England are trailing India 0-2 after losing the second and third Tests in Visakhapatnam and Mohali respectively. The first Test was drawn at Rajkot.

Asked how he would cope with the spin threat posed by India’s attack, Jennings said if he can come out on top of the Indian spinners it would a humbling experience for him.

“I leave that to you to answer in a couple of days of play. There is no better place to come and challenge yourself. If I can play and come out with some sort of success, that would be humbling,” the left-handed batsman said. “If I don’t play then I will carry drinks, but I am looking forward to getting involved.”

Having coached the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League, Jennings senior has good experience of the Indian conditions and he has given his son some tips ahead of the series.

“I have got quite a good relationship with my dad (Ray Jennings), from the playing point of view, my dad asked me to enjoy the process and culture of India. I have been told to drink lot of water and to ensure that the bottle is closed,” Jennings said.

“Previously, in 2009-10, I came with my dad to the IPL, (more so) as a tourist, really enjoyed and I am coming back to the place which I loved,” he said after the team’s practice session at the Wankhede stadium here.

“When I was 9-10 years old, we (me and my dad) were into the nets, we were kind of training and those were some of the days, when I decided not to listen. First ball I got out, second ball I got out, and he said one more time and you are going out, the third ball , I got out and he put his bag down and walked off,” he added. 

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