Kumble hails heroes
Skipper Anil Kumble on Sunday lauded opener Virender Sehwag and teenage paceman Ishant Sharma for playing key roles in India's series-levelling victory against Sri Lanka here.
India, who lost the opening match of the three-Test series by an innings and 239 runs in Colombo, came back strongly to win the second game by 170 runs with a day to spare. The final Test starts in Colombo on August 8.
Sri Lanka were shot out for 136 chasing a 307-run target, with Sharma doing the early damage to finish with 3-20 off 15 overs.
"I think the opening partnerships in both the innings was a turning point of the match. Sehwag getting a double-hundred and giving fantastic starts with Gautam Gambhir was very important," Kumble said.
Sehwag and Gambhir put on 167 for the opening wicket in the first innings and 90 in the second. Sehwag made an unbeaten 201 and 50, while Gambhir scored successive half-centuries.
"He (Sehwag) is a very good player and the way he scored runs in both the innings was great. Getting 201 in a total of 329 is something amazing," said the Indian captain.
"It was also amazing the way Harbhajan Singh bowled in both the innings and then Ishant and Zaheer Khan today.
"It was something special from the 19-year-old (Sharma). Everybody saw what he is capable of. It augurs really well going into the last Test."
Off-spinner Harbhajan grabbed 10 wickets in the match, his fifth haul of 10 or more wickets in a Test.
Kumble said he was confident his bowlers were capable of defending the target.
"I was never worried. You cannot say 300-350 is enough, but on this wicket if you have 300 and the way our new-ball bowlers bowled was amazing," he said.
"Getting three wickets (for 10 runs) within 40 minutes was crucial and that put Sri Lanka on the backfoot."
The Indian captain said he was confident his team would put in yet another impressive performance in the final Test, where Sri Lanka are expected to again rely on their spinners Muttiah Muralidaran and Ajantha Mendis.
"I am really proud of the way we played in this Test. We are confident of putting up a good show and if we repeat this performance we will get a good result," said Kumble.
"As the series goes on, you try and figure out the best possible ways to handle the spinners. They are quality spinners. Mendis is a mystery to some of us, but Sehwag has shown that you can get runs against the spinners."
Mendis and Muralidaran have so far shared 34 wickets in two matches.
Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene conceded the loss of early wickets affected their chances of chasing the target.
"It was important to get a good start when you are chasing any total, which we did not get. Losing three wickets for 10 runs was not ideal and that's where we probably lost the game," he said.
"We had a plan, but when you lose three quick wickets it is very difficult to fight back. Our batting was not consistent enough. I thought we could give them a better fight."
Jayawardene was all praise for unorthodox spinner Mendis, who took a maiden 10-wicket haul in only his second Test.
"I am very happy for Ajantha. He bowled brilliantly and supported the other bowlers as well, but it is very disappointing to lose the game in which he has taken 10 wickets," he said.
"The bowling unit fought really well throughout the Test and created opportunities for us."