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India vs Bangladesh: They’re a very improved side, says Anil Kumble

Hyderabad: India might be having a dominant history against Bangladesh, especially in Test cricket, but head coach Anil Kumble feels that it would be an ‘interesting contest’ when the two sides face each other in the lone Test beginning Thursday.

Speaking to reporters ahead of the historic Test, Kumble said, “We would like to take every team the same way in terms of what they bring to the table. It (Bangladesh) is a very improved side.”

Bangladesh have never beaten India in Test format and it would not be right to expect from the Mushfiqur Rahim-led side to change the records against the Virat Kohli-led side, that too for the first time on Indian soil.

“They have had a very good outing in New Zealand (last month), although the results (0-2) are different, but Bangladesh going to New Zealand and doing what they did… we certainly respect the opposition.”

“No matter who the opposition is, we would like to measure our own performances and treat every game in that fashion rather than look at the opposition. If we can continue to do that then the results will come our way. And Bangladesh has some quality players, good all-rounders. So, it is going to be a very interesting contest.”

Last month, Bangladesh surprised everyone by scoring 595/8 declared against the Black Caps in the Wellington Test after a double century (217) by Shakib Al Hasan and a hundred (159) by captain Mushfiqur Rahim.

However, a poor batting display in the second innings (160 all out) resulted in a seven-wicket defeat to the hosts.

The Kane Williamson-led side won the second Test too, by 9 wickets, in Christchurch to clinch the two-match series.

Kumble also hinted that the team would not be replacing out-of-form batsman Ajinkya Rahane with Karun Nair who caught the limelight by scoring a triple hundred in the last Test against England.

“We still haven’t thought about the combination but it’s nice that Karun took his opportunity and did what he did in Chennai,” Kumble said. “It is fantastic for a young cricketer to come in and score a triple-hundred.

“But we all know what Ajinkya has done for this team. His performances have been phenomenal across conditions.

It is nice that somebody, who came in to replace Ajinkya because of the injury in Mumbai, took three or four innings and was able to score a three-hundred. It’s nice to have to have that kind of contribution and that kind of ability from the youngsters,” he added.

The 46-year-old also threw his weight behind Murali Vijay and KL Rahul to open the batting in the Hyderabad Test, saying Abhinav Mukund has been selected as back-up.
“I don’t think the opening slot is a concern at all.

Vijay and Rahul have played wonderfully well in the last series. It’s just that you need a back-up. As far as we are concerned, openers have had [injury] issues, in the West Indies and in the home series as well. It’s just a concern,” he said.

“Abhinav brings in not just the experience of playing at the international level but also lots of runs in the domestic season just gone by. So he is in good form. And it’s a reward for what he has been able to achieve in the domestic circuit,” he added.

The head coach also said that the team management was keen on keeping all-rounder Hardik Pandya into consideration his combination of bowling at a fair clip and his aggressive batting in the middle-order.

“We certainly want to keep Hardik in the mix because he is someone who has the ability to become a good all-rounder even in the longer format. It’s very rare that you have someone who can run in and bowl at close to 140 kilometres/hour and bat in the middle order,” he said.

“He hasn’t been tested in the longer format. But we believe that if he is part of this mix. Whenever the opportunity comes, we will try him out. In the future, whenever we travel outside India, he will be someone we will probably look at,” he added.

India, unbeaten at home in 19 Tests since 2012, are currently at the top of the rankings, and are brimming with confidence after their recent series wins against New Zealand and England.
ANI