Kumble boost for India ahead of third Test

New Delhi, October 28:

Fit-again Anil Kumble will be back to lead India in the crucial third Test against Australia on Wednesday with the tourists bolstered by the return of fast bowler Stuart Clark.

“I’m 100 per cent fit,” Kumble said today at the Feroz Shah Kotla ground. But Kumble, who missed the second Test in Mohali due to a shoulder injury, said doubts still remained over the availability of off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, who has been suffering from a toe injury. “He’s still not sure for the match. We just want to wait and see and, depending on his fitness, we’ll take a final call tomorrow.”

Harbhajan’s injury could open the door for leg-spinner Amit Mishra, although Kumble stressed the importance of having the right balance in the team. “It’s a question of keeping the balance and obviously Harbhajan is a key member of the side and we are hoping he would be fit by tomorrow morning.” Harbhajan took three wickets in 10 balls in Mohali to set up India’s 320-run victory. The home side lead 1-0 in the four-match Border-Gavaskar series. The opener in Bangalore ended in a draw.

Mishra, who played as a replacement for Kumble at Mohali, also impressed, picking up seven Australian wickets in his debut Test. The tourists, who must win here to keep alive their chances of winning the series, were relieved at having Clark back in the squad after the bowler missed the Mohali game due to a sore elbow.

“Clark is back and (Peter) Siddle will sit out,” captain Ricky Ponting said, adding that Australia were yet to decide on their spin options, with Cameron White and the untested Jason Krejza both in the mix. “It could be one (spinner), it could be two. Jason is definitely in the reckoning,” he said.

Ponting was concerned that the haze hanging over the skyline here owing to Diwali, the festival of lights, might have an effect during the course of the match. Ponting also sought to downplay Kumble’s record at the venue. The Indian captain has 55 wickets at a rate of just 15.41 in six Tests there, including 10 in a single innings against Pakistan in 1999.

“We are aware of Kumble’s record. He is a champion bowler and we know him very well. Their bowlers did a great job in the last two Tests and we know it’s not going to be easy. But we have had a good preparation and we are ready for whatever India come up with here,” Ponting said.