Don't shoulder me with all the blame, pleads 'Jumbo'

The fitness and form of captain Anil "Jumbo" Kumble is India's main concern ahead of the second Test against Australia.

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MOHALI // The fitness and form of captain Anil "Jumbo" Kumble is India's main concern ahead of the second Test against Australia starting Friday. Kumble, Test cricket's third-highest wicket-taker, failed to take a wicket and suffered a shoulder strain as his team scrambled a draw in the first Test in Bangalore. Kumble, who also turns 38 tomorrow, said after the game he hoped to be 100 per cent fit to team up with off spinner Harbhajan Singh on a bouncier Mohali pitch that should suit him.

"I definitely didn't have a good game as a player, having my third Test in about 130 with no wickets and 100 runs given, but then again I'm the only current player in cricket to have more than 100 Australian scalps," he wrote in a newspaper column. Kumble, who has taken 616 wickets from 131 Tests, hit back at talk about his possible retirement. Several senior batsmen are rumoured to be set to retire while Saurav Ganguly has said he would quit after the current series.

"And for those who are wondering, I'm feeling good. I'm hopeful the shoulder injury I picked up during the match [after bowling 40 overs in the first innings] should be fine by the second Test and that it will be business as usual thereafter." India fans will also be hoping Sachin Tendulkar knocks off the 15 runs he needs to surpass Brian Lara's world runs record. Australia will relish the home team's discomfort.

Ricky Ponting, who averaged less than 13 in India before the series, ended his poor record by hitting 123 for his 35th Test hundred. However, the captain was frustrated after his pace bowlers failed to skittle India out on an uneven fifth day pitch. Pace spearhead Brett Lee was below his hostile best and took just one wicket in each innings, while Stuart Clark is doubtful with an inflamed elbow joint from the Bangalore Test.

Clark was not given the second new ball during India's first innings on the third day, but was handed the new ball at the start of India's second innings. Clark had bowled only 17 overs in the first innings and had thrown under arm while fielding in the deep. The Australian physio Alex Kountouris said Clark had to be rested and an assessment will be made on the eve of the match. "He's not going to bowl at training today [Wednesday]," Kountouris said. * Agencies