Murali+Mendis=srilanka TEST cricket

With the famed Indian batting order’s reputation in tatters, a dejected India captain Anil Kumble on Saturday said his side will have to find ways to take on the Lankan spin duo of Muttiah Muralitharan and Ajantha Mendis if they have to come back in the second Test.

Muralitharan and debutant Mendis shared 19 wickets between them to hand the Indians a humiliating innings and 239 run defeat in the first Test here.

“We were not good enough against the spinners. We just capitulated (to them). We have made comebacks in the past. It is just a matter of getting together, but we have to look at the way of tackling both Murali and Mendis,” Kumble said at the post-match press conference.

Kumble rued the dropped catches early in the Lankan first innings which had contributed to the hosts’ mammoth 600 for six which made it a Herculean task for the famed Indian batting order to save the match.

“Obviously 600 on the board did not help us. We had a good opportunity in the beginning when they were about 100 for 2. We dropped a few catches. Warnapura was dropped, Mahela Jayawardene was dropped a couple of times, though it’s tough to bowl first on a wicket which is dry at the start,” he said.

“Nothing went right for us in the match. Other than planning, it is important to do well in fielding,” he added.

The Indian captain also rued on a few dismissals which did not go his team’s way when reviewed by the experimental referral system.

“A few dismissals were obviously negated under the referral system. The new system is something that we have to take forward. It definitely requires a review but it is too early to say.”

Kumble denied his team was under prepared for the Sri Lankan tour and said a lot of planning had gone through ahead of the visit.

“We have people who have played Test cricket for more than 15 or 20 years. You can’t find a better experience batting line up. We hope to cope with the spin in second Test.”

Asked if India paid the price for not focusing on Ajantha Mendis, Kumble said, “Murali and Chaminda Vaas are probably the bowlers we were looking for. Nothing has changed and obviously he (Murali) is the champion bowler.”

An elated Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene was a bit surprised by the collapse of the Indian batting and said he did not expect the victory would come so soon on the fourth day.

“When you see that (Indian) batting line up you would not expect them to buckle and (expect them to) give you a fight. That is a surprising factor. I am sure they will come back strongly at us,” he said.

The home captain said though they will celebrate their victory but “can’t stop working hard and have to try and maintain standards”.

‘Mystery’ spinner Mendis said he had hoped to do well in the debut match but did not expect to take so many wickets.

“The senior players guided me,” he said.

Muralitharan said if Mendis keeps his calm and go on learning he would get a lot of wickets in international cricket.

The champion off-spinner said the umpiring referral system was helpful for cricket as there could be “no more excuses” (for defeats).


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