Kirsten: Don't get distracted

2008-10-03 17:22
BANGALORE - Coach Gary Kirsten told India's squad to distance themselves from the controversy surrounding five senior players ahead of the start of the test series against Australia next week.

The countdown for the four-test series starting in Bangalore on Thursday has been overshadowed by news the Indian board has drawn up retirement plans for five veterans including captain Anil Kumble and record-breaking batsman Sachin Tendulkar.

A board official said on Wednesday that Kumble, Tendulkar, Saurav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and Vangipurappu Laxman, all well into their 30s, had been told to plan their retirements by December.

"I think we should move on from that," South African Kirsten told a news conference on Friday. "We need to focus on the team and get on with the test series.

"India have got the best record against Australia and we have got a good idea of what we need to do, game-wise as well as mentally."

World number ones Australia won a four-test series 2-1 four years ago to record their first series victory on Indian soil in 35 years but are rebuilding after several high-profile retirements.

SPIN THREAT

Kirsten expects spin to pose a serious threat to the visitors but said the hosts were capable of winning in all conditions.

"It feels good to have two spinners who have got so many wickets in our team and that is certainly something that works in our favour," he said.

India named leg-break bowler Amit Mishra as a third specialist spinner in the squad for the first two tests as back up for Kumble and Harbhajan Singh.

Leg-spinner Kumble is the world's third highest wicket taker and architect of several victories.

Off-spinner Harbhajan, who took 32 wickets in the 2-1 victory over Australia in 2001, needs nine more scalps to reach 300 in tests.

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