Kirsten demands application and determination from batsmen

Eight wickets separating India from a humiliating defeat, coach Gary Kirsten on Thursday demanded application and determination from his wards.

updated: November 19, 2009 13:58 IST
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Eight wickets separating India from a humiliating defeat, coach Gary Kirsten on Thursday demanded application and determination from his wards to save the first Test against Sri Lanka on Friday.

Having conceded a 334-run first innings lead, India finished the penultimate day at 190 for two, still trailing the visitors by 144 runs and will have to bat out of their skin tomorrow to save the Test.

"The wicket is good for batting. We need to just apply ourselves and put on a nice concentrated effort tomorrow," Kirsten said after the fourth day's play.

"We have the batsmen, got enough skills in our team to be able to do what we need to do tomorrow. It will require a lot of concentration and determined effort to save the game," he said.

"A score of 190 for one would have been better but it was a good batting effort. (I'm) pleased with what the guys did there. Everyone made a contribution, which was great. Hopefully we can do more of the same tomorrow," he added. According to him, the Indians would have to bat tomorrow without taking risks while while not going too defensive either.

"It's a mix and match. You don't want to get into a hole playing too defensively. At the same time you don't want to take too many risks. We have been batting at four an over. It's a bit of a balancing act," he explained.

Praising Gautam Gambhir's unbeaten 74, Kirsten said the left-hander was capable of saving the Test, like he had done against New Zealand earlier this year.

"We know what he's capable of. He did a fantastic job in Napier early this year to save a Test match for us. The other players can also do the job," he said.

He also defended Virender Sehwag who played a typically aggressive and chancy knock of 51 before throwing away his wicket with an ugly heave.

"We know the way Viru plays. We gracefully accept the benefit when he makes a big contribution, but there's always risk attached to the way he plays his cricket.
We accept it when it is going well. That's the way he plays," the former South Africa opener said.

Kirsten said that the team should have scored 100 or 150 more runs in their first innings on such a good batting track. Having failed to do so, the home side needed to make up in the second essay tomorrow, he said.

"When we look at this wicket, we probably were 100 or 150 runs short in the first innings. We got to make that up in the second innings, which we know we can," he said.

He also praised the stupendous knock of 275 by Mahela Jayawardene who batted for more than 10 hours and forged a world record sixth wicket stand with Prasanna Jayawardene, the Lankan wicket keeper.

"Let's give credit to the way the Sri Lanka batsmen batted. It was a superb effort with their batsmen showing the hunger for big scores. Mahela just showed what a quality player he is at Test match level. He does not give it away. He bats big, bats for long periods of time," Kirsten said.

"I sensed when he got past the 100 we were not going to see the end of him (as) he's not the type of individual who knocks it up in the air and says 'thank you very much' and bats for as long as he can," he said.

Kirsten once again came to the defence of spinners Harbhajan Singh and Amit Mishra who both gave away 392 runs combined for a paltry two wickets.

"Wicket has shown it has not taken as much turn as we thought it would take. For the seamers too, it has been tough with not much reverse swing. So far it's shown to be a fantastic batting wicket where batsmen would be licking their lips saying there's an opportunity to get a big hundred there.

"Hopefully, the wicket holds like it has held over the four days and provides a great opportunity for our batsmen to do something special tomorrow," he said.