Virat Kohli and Anil Kumble during India’s training session ahead of the one-off Test against Bangladesh in Hyderabad (Photo: S. Surender Reddy)
Hyderabad: Indian coach Anil Kumble went down memory lane on Tuesday to relive his astonishing 10-wicket haul in a Test match almost two decades ago. It was on February 7, 1999 that the former Indian captain had achieved the Jumbo feat of scalping all 10 wickets in an innings, against Pakistan at the Ferozeshah Kotla ground in New Delhi.
The leg-spinner’s jaw dropping figures of 10 for 74 were instrumental in India’s 212-run win over their arch rivals in the capital and entered the record books as only the second 10-for in history behind English off-spinner Jim Laker’s 10 for 53 against Australia back in 1956.
On Tuesday, Kumble was nostalgic. “I don’t think I ever thought 18 years ago when I sat in the dressing room going out to bowl that I will pick up 10 wickets. It is one of those things that happen,” he said struggling to contain his smile.
However, the 46-year-old lapped up the accolades though. “It is nice to celebrate anniversaries of cricketing milestones as well. If it happens, it happens. It can happen tomorrow or 10 years down the line or may not happen at all,” he said of the probability of the record being matched.
“It is a very rare occurring and I was privileged and blessed to be a part of that. It is something very unique. I am glad people remember anniversaries and we also celebrate cricketing anniversaries,” Kumble added. The Indian coach also spoke on a variety of subjects ahead of the one-off Test against Bangladesh that begins here on Thursday. Excerpts:
On the Test: We’d like to look at it as a continuation from where we left off against England. It’s been a good home season so far and we like to take confidence from that and build on it because we still have a few more Test matches after this as well.
On maintaining momentum: What we have gone about in the group is to measure our performances, measure our own expectations and not really look at the opposition. That’s really worked well for us so far. I don’t think we need to do anything different against Bangladesh and anyone moving forward. That’s all we will focus on, irrespective of who the opposition is. As long as we do that and continue to keep winning those moments and performances as a group, I think the results will go our way.
On Bangladesh: They are a very improved side. They had a good outing in New Zealand although the results are different. We certainly respect the opposition. Bangladesh has some quality players, good allrounders. It’s going to be a real good contest.
Bangladesh’s good reputation against spin: We have the ability to take 20 wickets, irrespective of who goes out there, whether it is the fast bowlers or the spinners. It is a matter of getting the partnership right.
Approach for a one-off Test: Every game, whether it’s a series of three Test matches or five Test matches, which we recently played against England, you have take every session and every Test match as separate unit and not look at it as a series itself. So it’s very different when you are playing a one-off Test match. You would want to look at a series as every match in itself and not as a whole series. Test matches are about showing character and pulling back if you have lost a session or continuing to keep the momentum going if you’ve won a session.
Opening concerns: Not really. I don’t think the opening slot was a concern at all. Murali Vijay and K. L. Rahul have played wonderfully well in the last series. It’s just that you need a back-up opener just in case something happens on the day of the match. As far we are concerned, the openers have always had some issues, be it in the last home series or in the series leading up to it. It’s just a concern and it’s always nice… I mean Abhinav (Mukund) brings in not just the experience of playing at the international level but also lots of runs in the domestic season just gone by. He’s in good form. It’s a reward to what he’s being able to achieve in the domestic season.
On Ajinkya Rahane: We still have not thought about the combination. It is nice that Karun (Nair) took the opportunity and did what he did in Chennai. It is fantastic for a youngster to come and score a triple hundred. We all know what Ajinkya has done for India. His performances have been phenomenal across conditions. It is nice that somebody who has come in to replace because of injury in Mumbai, and just three or four innings later, he was able to score a triple hundred. It is nice to have that kind of ability and that kind of contribution coming in from youngsters as well.
On Hardik Pandya: We certainly want to keep Hardik in the mix. He is someone who has the ability to become a good allrounder in the longer format. That is one of the reasons we have pushed Hardik. It is very rare someone can run in and bowl close to 140 kmph and bat in the lower middle-order. That is the ability Hardik brings in. He has not been really tested in the longer format. It is important that you keep players with that ability in the mix as well.
On Ashwin and Jadeja: They are proven match-winners and have the ability to not really bother about conditions, which were challenging both against New Zealand and England. Time was also a major factor but the way they were able to build pressure on the opposition and pick up wickets was fantastic. I was extremely pleased with Jadeja’s performance in Chennai — the way he varied his pace, bowled much slower than what he is used to and picked up wickets on a very good surface. People tend to look at the surface and not give too much credit to spinners, especially when spinners perform in India. But at the end of the day, it is the ability of the bowlers to pick up 20 wickets… Ashwin is a world-class bowler, to support whom and also as a combination, these two have done really well.