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India vs New Zealand 2016: It is nice to have Gautam Gambhir back, says India coach Anil Kumble

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Gautam Gambhir has been drafted into the team on the back of his terrific domestic form.

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 05:  Anil Kumble,Chairman of the ICC Cricket Commitee  talks to the media at  a press conference to announce the shortlists for the LG ICC Awards 2014 at the ICC Headquarters in Dubai Sports City on November 5, 2014 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.  (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)
Kumble is pleased with Gautam Gambhir’s return 

Indian cricket team coach Anil Kumble on Wednesday said it is “nice” to have Gautam Gambhir back into the squad for the second Test against New Zealand which starts at the Eden Gardens on Friday.

Gambhir has replaced KL Rahul who got injured in the first Test. The Delhi left-hander has been in a rollicking form off late in the domestic circuit and his experience of playing on the Eden track might help the team.

“It is really nice to have Gautam back. Unfortunately, Rahul got injured in the last Test match. There is something about injuries now, (Murali) Vijay got injured in West Indies and now Rahul. It is unfortunate because he was batting brilliantly”, Kumble said.

“But having said that, Gautam has done very well in domestic cricket and now he is part of the 15. I don’t want to give away anything now regarding team combinations or the strategies, but it’s good to have him back,” he added.

The former India captain also jumped to the defence of top-order batsman Chesteshwar Pujara whose Test strike rate has been under scrutiny recently. A few days back even Indian skipper Virat Kohli had said he has had a word with the Saurashtra batsman on improving his strike rate.

“You know strike rates have been in the limelight for the last eight years or so after the advent of T20. But when I was playing in Test cricket, strike rate was for bowlers and not batsmen,” Kumble said.

“In a team, you need different characters and you need different qualities. You have to see if players have the skill set for the challenges of a Test match because every session can be different and that is the beauty of Test cricket. From my point of view, strike rate is only relevant for bowlers in Test cricket.”

Even a few weeks back Pujara was under fire for being inconsistent but then he got amongst runs with a double-century in Duleep Trophy and scores of 62 and 78 in the first Test against New Zealand.

“He (Pujara) has been playing well and I don’t think there’s any pressure on him. The beauty about this squad is there is hardly any pressure on anyone. Yes there are roles and responsibility but we do not put pressure on any player,” stated the 45-year-old.

Kumble also spoke about New Zealand’s under-firing opener Martin Guptill and offspinner Jeetan Patel who has been roped into the squad.

“Guptil is a quality player and it’s not easy to come into the subcontinent and straight away play your shots. He is a stroke maker but coming out of bad form isn’t easy. And I hope it continues (Laughs). Any team would want that. Get the openers out cheaply,” he said.

“Jeetan Patel has not played too much for New Zealand. He has done well in the county championship so we know what he can do. We are certainly looking out for him.”

Rohit’s 68 not out will boost his confidence, says Kumble 

The first Test also saw Rohit Sharma getting a steady 68 not out after throwing his wicket away in the first innings and Kumble believes the knock would do his confidence a world of good.  

“In this squad what we will look at is what is needed for a particular playing XI. For the past year we have gone in with five bowlers generally, but in the last game we only had four and that is why Rohit came in at No.6. and him batting well certainly augurs well for us.

“In the first innings, he was disappointed with the way he got out. He did not repeat that in the second innings. And that 100 run-partnership with Jadeja was very important as it ensured we moved well ahead of New Zealand.

“The momentum got carried over when we went into bowl as well. Rohit’s knock was not only a boost for the team but it would do his confidence a world of good,” Kumble stated.

The coach added he did not have a look at the wicket yet but insisted his team are ready to play on any kind of surface.  

“I haven’t had a look at the pitch yet. Yes, there has been rain in the air, but I don’t want to see it playing a spoilt sport. It should be a good wicket. Just before the beginning of the series I had said we have the squad to deal with any kind of wicket. So we are not too worried about the pitch,” he added.


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