Kolkata [India]: Welcoming the return of Gautam Gambhir in India’s Test set-up after a gap of two years, head coach Anil Kumble on Wednesday emphasised that the experienced opener has been performing well in the domestic cricket and, therefore, expressed his pleasure at seeing him back for remaining matches of the ongoing home series against New Zealand.
The 34-year-old was brought in the 15-man squad as a replacement for opener K.L Rahul, who was ruled out of the remaining two matches due to a hamstring injury.
“It is actually nice to have Gautam back. Unfortunately, Rahul got injured in the last Test match. And I think there is something happening with the openers. For some reason, they are getting injured-Vijay got injured in West Indies. Now Rahul, it is unfortunate. He was batting brilliantly. But having said that, Gautam has done really well in domestic cricket and he is a part of the 15. I don’t want to give away anything with regards to team combinations. All 15 are available for selection. So, it’s nice to have him back,” Kumble said ahead of the second Test to be held here in Kolkata from Friday.
Meanwhile, the former Indian skipper also defended his batsmen, who have been going through slow strike rate. Kumble said that batsmen need not have to worry about the strike rate as it is categorically for bowlers.
“I know there is a lot of talk about strike rate after the advent of the T20. As far as I was concerned, when I was playing, mostly strike rates were spoken about for bowlers. In the Indian team, you need different characters. You need different quality players,” Kumble pointed.
“You need different players with different skill set; there are challenges that happen in a Test match because every session is different. That’s the beauty of Test cricket. Strike rates are only relevant to bowlers and not for batsmen. That’s how I like to look at it,” he added.
Recently, there has been a lot of talk about Cheteshwar Pujara’s slow strike rate against the West Indies, with Test skipper Virat Kohli also admitting that he had a conversation with the Saurashtra batsman about improving his strike rate.
In spite of that, Kumble believes that Pujara is a “very important cog” of the team, who has been contributing well in the team’s winning cause.
“I don’t think Pujara has ever breathed easily. From all your perspective and all people who are constantly watching him. But at least for team management and in team’s perspective, there is absolutely no pressure on Pujara. He is a very important cog in our team. We have seen over the years his contribution and in the last match we saw the importance of his contribution to the team’s cause. I don’t see any pressure on anyone in this team,” he said.
Besides Gambhir, off-spinner Jayant Yadav has also been brought in the squad in place of medium pacer Ishant Sharma, who failed to recover fully from chikangunia that also forced him to miss the country’s 500th Test match.
India are currently leading the three-match series 1-0 following their comprehensive 197-run win over Kane Williamson’s side in the opening match at the Green Park Stadium in Kanpur.(ANI)