India need to get back the hunger and intent, opines Kumble

Anil Kumble said he is confident of India’s comeback against England Getty Images

New Delhi: Aug 4, 2011

India can bounce back in the ongoing four-Test series in England if they get their “hunger and intent back”, former captain and leg-spin great Anil Kumble said. The tourists, struggling with form and fitness problems, currently trail 2-0 in the series and will lose their number-one Test ranking if they suffer one more defeat.

Injuries to key players Zaheer Khan, Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh and Yuvraj Singh also added to their woes in the last two Tests at Lord’s and Trent Bridge. Hard-hitting opener Sehwag is now set to return for the last two matches, while Gambhir and Zaheer are expected to be fit for the third Test starting at Edgbaston on August 10.

“I am hoping Zaheer, and everyone else in the squad, will be 100 percent fit. Sehwag will help for obvious reasons, so I am confident this team can bounce back,” Kumble wrote in The Hindu newspaper.

“They (India) are capable of winning the next Test, but they have to get that hunger and intent back. The 10-day break, as well as the fact that Sehwag and Gambhir are coming in, will definitely help because the batting will look more settled.”

However off-spinner Harbhajan and all-rounder Yuvraj were Wednesday ruled out for the rest of the Test series.

Kumble, the world’s third-highest wicket-taker in Tests with 619 scalps behind Sri Lankan Muttiah Muralitharan (800) and Shane Warne (708), said India had the ability to strike back.

“The desperation and hunger which has been the hallmark of this team was missing in the last two Tests. They will have to get that hunger back. If that comes in, the rest of it falls in place because the ability is there,” he wrote.

“The way we lost hurt more than the loss itself. These are the same players who have taken Indian cricket to such great heights, and they realise what the issues are.”

India lost the first Test by 196 runs and the second by 319 runs.

Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar also said Sehwag’s return would be a big boost for Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s team.

“Sehwag joins the team and even if he fails in the two-day warm-up game (starting at Northampton on Friday) he must play in the next Test,” Gavaskar wrote in the same paper.

“He can lift this team up and can just be the tonic this team needs. Yes, India are two down but a hurricane start from the Delhi dasher (Sehwag) can help turn it around.”

Sehwag, known for dominating bowling with his brilliant strokeplay, has scored 7,694 runs in 87 Tests with 22 centuries.