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Unfit Harbhajan keeps Mishra's chances open

New Delhi, Oct 28 (UNI) The uncertainity over Harbhajan Singh's availability for the third Test continues to loom large as the Indian captain Anil Kumble today stated that the off-spinner has not fully recovered from his toe injury and a final decision will only be taken tomorrow morning.

However, the India has retained the same 12-member team that played the Mohali Test and Harbhajan's injury will just pave way for leg-spinner Amit Mishra, who had a dream debut in the last Test where he picked five wickets in the first innings.

''Harbhajan is still not fit and a final call on his availability will only be taken tomorrow,'' Kumble said here today.

''He is a key member of this side but we don't want to risk him as well and we have retained the the same 12, who were in the team for the Mohali Test.

''It is just that I have come in and if Harbhajan does not make it to the playing XI Amit Mishra will be there in the team,'' he said, adding, ''the number of balls he bowled in the nets is the criteria to decided his fitness. We still have a day to decide on that.'' The Indian captain also indicated that the home team will look to wrap up the series here itself and make the last Test at Nagpur an inconsequential.

''We have played good cricket to go one up in the series and hope to continue it here as well. Our sole aim would be to go 2-0 in the series and I am confident about it,'' he added.

Kumble, who himself had to miss the Mohali Test due to a shoulder injury, said he was fully fit and has recovered completely and said irrespective of whether who plays the match tomorrow, India has the bowling attack to pick 20 wickets.

The 38-year-old leggie, whose own personal record here at the Feroz Shah Kotla ground is very impressive, said his team is upbeat to extend its good run at this venue.

''Every one in the team very upbeat after the success at Mohali.

''We have a great record here as a team and personally, it has been a memmorable venue for me,'' said Kumble, who has picked up 55 wickets at the Kotla ground.

Even if Mishra fails to make the cut, the Indian team will have as many as three local boys in the playing XI. All three of them - openers Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir, and speedster Ishant Sharma are in great form.

Kumble further asserted that the home team is expecting the openers to provide a solid start as they have been doing in the past.

''Both the openers have been very critical to our success and I hope they are able to give us another flying start here at there home ground,'' he stated.

A confident Kumble added that his team was not too concerned about the Australian team's preparations and said they were more keen to focus on their own practise and strategies.

''We are not bothered about what they are doing and we are more focussed about our preparations.

He pointed out that the toss at Kotla might not make a huge difference and said the pitch was prepared well which would assist well to both batsmen and bowlers.

''I am not too worried about the toss. Of course, toss is important in Indian conditions but at Kotla, it hardly matters. This is something on which we don't have our control,'' he said.


Story first published: Tuesday, October 28, 2008, 14:03 [IST]
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