India can still push for a victory, insists the coach
NEW DELHI: Letting slip a huge opportunity to seal a Test-series win against Australia must be hurting but India coach Gary Kirsten is not a completely disappointed person, though he was forthright in admitting on Saturday that the host did not create enough opportunities for a victory.
After a tormenting and luckless day at the Kotla, the Indian team must be cursing itself for missing a more-focussed approach and Kirsten just reflected that at the press conference after the end of the penultimate day’s play in the third Test on Saturday.
Not a great day
“It was not a great day for us. We made fielding errors and helped Australia to come back into the match and post 500 runs on the board. We started today thinking of really doing something. You create opportunities to win a Test match and we did not create enough opportunities. We were not focussing on our process,” Kirsten said.
“The first catch that Ishant (Sharma) dropped could have a bearing on the match. It’s not the same with the other two (dropped) catches because Australia had crossed the 500 mark by then. I don’t think we bowled well enough to create those opportunities for ourselves after lunch. But Aussies took their chances and capitalised on them. It can have a huge bearing on the match,” he said.
Kirsten, however, did not blame the home bowlers completely. “It is a very good pitch to bat on and it’s not easy to take wickets. But it happens in Test cricket.”
Kirsten claimed that India still had a chance to push for a victory on Sunday. “Yes we can (win). We are 79 ahead and if we bat for a session and a bit, we will be in a strong position on the last day.”
A common thing to do
The former South African opener denied that the Indian team’s move to send Ishant Sharma, who got out very early, as the night watchman was a defensive move. “We ask No. 3 or No. 4 batsmen whether they want to bat (towards the end of the day’s play) and very few don’t want a night watchman. We always do it.”
On the first five-wicket haul by Virender Sehwag, Kirsten said the Delhi player had provided options for the side. “Viru has proved himself as an all-rounder and is a tremendous asset for the team. He adds variety to the bowling.”
Kirsten said Sehwag filled the absence of off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, who missed out on this match because of a toe injury, to some extent. “Harbhajan would have added value to the team, he is a tremendous bowler. But I think we have enough variety and options in the spin department for the Test. You just have to create the opportunities.”
Asked whether captain Anil Kumble, who is nursing a finger injury, would be part of the playing XI in the fourth and final Test starting in Nagpur on November 6, Kirsten said: “I don’t know.”
Meanwhile, buoyed by his luck-favoured century and happy having put Australia in a safer position, Michael Clarke said on Saturday the tourists could now go for the ‘kill’ and level the Test series against India.
Clarke said India had become defensive and Australia had the chance to press for a win on the fifth day track at the Ferozeshah Kotla here on Sunday.
“Now we are in a good position. We’ve seen India sending out a night watchman today, which tells you that they have been pretty defensive in their approach. It will tell you tomorrow, only one team would go for the win and it’s Australia. India would not set any target tomorrow, they showed it by deciding to send a night watchman,” Clarke told mediamen after the draw of stumps on the fourth day of the third Test.
“We’ll try to get a couple of early wickets tomorrow. We’ll be attacking... so hope we can bowl them out. Initially, it was not easy getting the first 10 runs. The pitch is turning quite a bit and it would turn even more tomorrow," he said.
The Australian Vice Captain said he would cherish his knock of 112 runs here even though he got at least three lives while scoring it. “It was incredibly rewarding to have scored a century against India. I guess I have been very lucky today, especially in my 90s, I could have been out twice in the 90s.