We don`t need to justify our No 1 spot: Kirsten

Last Updated: Nov 08, 2010, 15:09 PM IST

New Delhi: India coach Gary Kirsten on Monday said that although his team does not need to justify its numero uno status in Tests to anyone but if the side could register a series win in longer version of the game in South Africa, it might be termed as one of greatest achievements in the history of Indian cricket.

"We don`t need to justify it to anyone," Kirsten told a leading cricket website in an interview.

"The performances speak loud: 23 Tests, two losses, 12 wins. When you look at the performances of the five top-ranked Test teams over the two years, you know why India are at the top.”

"But to remain the top-ranked team, we need to continue performing. If we do win in South Africa, then you can start talking about one of the greatest Test teams India have ever produced," added the coach.

However, the former South Africa opener is aware that it is not going to be easy at all for the Indians.

"South Africa are very tough to beat at home as India are to beat in India," he said, adding, "The wickets really suit the pace bowlers."

But he refused to believe that India`s batsmen are vulnerable to short bowling.

"It is all about players hitting form at the right time. I certainly don`t think that any opposition can use that as an out-and-out strategy to undo the Indian Test batting line-up. There is too much experience in this team now.”

"Also the Indian fast bowlers are good themselves on helpful wickets - Sreesanth, Ishant (Sharma) and Zak (Zaheer Khan) are a good bowling attack... This Test series will be a defining moment for us."

Meanwhile, talking about how the team would cope once the big guns -- Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman retire, Kirsten assured that none of them has yet spoken to him of retirement.

"There is no inclination of any of them retiring," Kirsten said.

"And I always ask them. They are certainly not in any rush. Look, if Rahul Dravid decides to retire, it is a major blow. Just like when (somebody like) Jacques Kallis decides to retire, it is a major blow for any team.”

The Protean, however, added that when the big three in the middle-order decide to call it a day, it would certainly create a huge void, but India would be able to cope up with it if they make sure that the farewells are not too close together.

"There are enough young guys there but it will take them few years. There might be a rebuilding phase in India in two years` time," said Kirsten.

"There are some really good young players. You will have (Virender) Sehwag, (Gautam) Gambhir, (MS) Dhoni, (Suresh) Raina, along with the likes of (Murali) Vijay and (Cheteshwar) Pujara and others.

"Yes, you might miss out on a Laxman batting in a crucial situation to win you a game - that experience - but someone like Suresh Raina has done it plenty of times in one-dayers, so there is no reason why he can`t transfer that into the Test match arena," added Kirsten.

Apart from the retirement concerns of the key players, what bothers the 42-year-old coach more was team`s injury management.

"I think it is important that we continue to monitor players when they get injured. Maybe a physical conditioning co-ordinator between the NCA and the team, who operates as a link, could be a good idea in the future.

"In this way the players will have a programme set up for their rehabilitation rather than them making the decision to go to the NCA. It is difficult for the team management to monitor players whilst on the road - our focus is always on preparing the players for the next game.”

"With Anil Kumble`s appointment (as director of the NCA), I`m looking forward to creating some dialogue around this to work out the most effective system," said Kirsten.

PTI