Gambhir defends bowlers, blames `flat track`

Chandigarh: Board President`s XI captain Gautam Gambhir today defended his unimpressive bowlers and blamed a flat track for their lackluster show on the opening day of the warm-up match against Australia here.

"Bowlers did a good job. There was not too much in the wicket. Our bowlers were up against a quality side and they had to bowl on a flat track. Still, they did a decent job," Gambhir told at the post-match press conference.

All the Indian bowlers proved quite expensive at a lifeless Sector 16 stadium pitch as Australia piled up a huge 319 for one on the first day, with the openers Shane Watson (115) and Simon Katich (104 retired hurt) producing a 232-run opening partnership.

Gambhir also defended pacer S Sreesanth, who failed to impress, giving away 41 runs in his 13 overs without any success, saying fast bowlers take time to rediscover the rhythm after an injury lay-off.

"He (Sreesanth) is coming back after an injury. You have got to give some leverage to him. He tried his best," Gambhir said.

Sreesanth, who has been included in the first Test squad against Australia starting October 1 in Mohali, is trying to break into the playing eleven in the series opener after an injury lay-off.

Australians had acknowledged that reverse swing played an important role when they toured India two years ago and now Gambhir said quality bowlers such as Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma`s ability to move the ball would be crucial in the upcoming Test series.

"Zak (Zaheer) is going to be a big threat (for the Aussies)," Gambhir said.

On Aussie plans to restrict Virender Sehwag during the series, Gambhir said every side comes up with their own strategies.

Gambhir, who is also coming back after an injury lay-off, said he was looking forward to getting some practice in this match before the Mohali Test.

Asked about the young bowlers in the side, he said, "When a bowler bowls against a quality opposition, it`s always a good learning curve for him even if he fails to get a wicket."

Meanwhile, centurion Watson said their strategy was to spend as much time in the middle as possible and get some runs under the belt before the first Test.

"Big partnerships can always change the course of the game," he said.

Praising Katich, Watson said, "He set up the scene for the whole tour."

Watson also said that the wicket was "fairly flat" and "there was a softer area in the middle."