India likely to start with two spinners on Boxing Day: Kumble

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Melbourne, Dec 25 (UNI) Team India is likely to play two spinners during the Boxing Day Test with skipper Anil Kumble saying off-spinner Harbhajan Singh will feature in the playing XI.

''Yes, there is a case for playing two spinners, but it all depends on how the pitch looks the morning of the match ... we will take a final call tomorrow morning,'' Kumble was quoted as saying by the local media.

The pitch at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, the venue of the first Test, is expected to favour the fast bowlers early on the opening day before turning spin friendly later in the match.

Playing two spinners would mean that the Indians will have to choose two pacers from among left-armers RP Singh, Irfan Pathan and Zaheer Khan.

Kumble stated that his side would bank on their strong batting line-up to put up a big first-innings total that would allow him and Harbhajan to put presure on the hosts with attacking fields in place.

''The key to winning any Test match is to score runs and if you have runs on the board, any team can get under pressure,'' he said.

''If you have runs on the board there's every possibility you'll end up getting 20 wickets with the pressure you can create. We have the potential to get 20 wickets, I believe that.'' None of the Indian bowlers got to see any action in the washed-out tour match against Victoria last week, but Kumble did not seem worried about it and said, ''It would have been ideal bowling in a match situation but having said that, they're looking really good.'' Kumble vowed that he'll bowl and captain the side in a positive frame of mind, and also said he would not be afraid to bowl plenty of overs, despite some bowling skippers' tendencies to under bowl themselves.

''Even if you take the rest days, I bowled 10 overs every day,'' he said of the recent Pakistan series.

''I don't think I under bowled myself at all. It all depends on the situation, how it is, I am first a bowler and then a captain.

It's important for me to do my job as a bowler, yes, and then whatever captaincy requires I'll do that, but on the field my job is to ensure that the team does well and I play my part as a bowler.'' The Indian skipper has an impressive Test record against the world champions, averaging almost six wickets a match. Harbhajan, who starred in the 2001 series win, scalped 32 wickets in the three match series.

The Men in Blue open their campaign Down Under with the first Test starting tomorrow at the MCG.

UNI

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