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Kumble says teams will have to be on top of its game from the first ball

Sachin Tendulkar will be missed but India side still good enough, opines the former India captain

Kumble says teams will have to be on top of its game from the first ball
 - Cricket News
Anil Kumble believes momentum will be the key to success, while fitness of match-winners will be important.
Anil Kumble, the former India captain and one of the most respected and influential voices in cricket, has said the forthcoming ICC Champions Trophy 2013 will be a challenging and closely fought tournament in which the momentum of the sides and fitness of match-winners will be crucial.  

Kumble, one of the legends of the game, who played 132 Tests and 271 One-Day Internationals, also said India will miss the services of Sachin Tendulkar when it enters the 50-over competition for the first time as world champion, but believed his former side is good enough to produce the best results.  

“The ICC Champions Trophy is a great preamble to the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015. In 18 days of cricket, you will see in action all the best cricketers from the top eight countries in what will be a great spectacle,” said Kumble, adding: “It is a great event because the format is so tight and tough. You will have to be on top of your game from ball number one.”

The ICC Champions Trophy 2013 will be staged at Cardiff Wales Stadium, Edgbaston and The Oval from 6-23 June.  

Australia, which has been placed in Group A along with England, New Zealand and Sri Lanka, will be aiming to complete a hat-trick of titles having won the event in 2006 and 2009. Group B includes traditional rivals India and Pakistan, as well as South Africa and West Indies.

Kumble was a member of the India side that was declared joint-winner with Sri Lanka in the ICC Champions Trophy 2002, and also played in the 1998 and 2000 editions when the event was called ICC Knock-Out.

“Momentum will be the key to success in this short and sharp tournament, and the teams will need to get the momentum right from the very start and carry it on throughout the tournament. You cannot afford a hiccup. It’s a great format where every match counts and every match is like a final. That’s the criticality of every game in the ICC Champions Trophy,” said Kumble, who took 337 ODI wickets in his illustrious career.

“The event is in the early part of the English summer, so the other big challenge would be to adapt to the conditions, which could potentially change even during the course of a match. That’s the beauty about playing in the United Kingdom.  

"As the ICC Champions Trophy will be at the back of the India Premier League (IPL) as well as a few international series, the fitness of key players will be extremely important. I think advantage will be with the side that will have the most match-winners fit and available for selection.”

Looking ahead to the India side without Tendulkar, Kumble said: “It is never easy to replace someone like Sachin Tendulkar. Not just because of his on-field credentials but what he brings outside of it in terms of the respect that India gets.  

“The atmosphere changes when he walks onto the field whether it is in India, Pakistan, Australia or England. Wherever he has toured, people have come to watch him play. This is something the people of the UK will probably miss during the ICC Champions Trophy 2013.  

“It is never easy but the Indian team has a good set-up. It will be the first time it will be in a world championship without the great man but I strongly believe the India team has a good record and a good team to go out there and do really well.  

“There are other teams that are playing really well in the ODI format. So, everyone will be keen to win the tournament.”

In a match between former champions, India will take on South Africa in the tournament opener in Cardiff on 6 June.  

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