'It's nice to be on the brink of victory'

Published: Thursday, April 1, 2004, 2:26 [IST]
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Multan:Leg-spinner Anil Kumble, who dispelled doubts about his shoulder claiming 6-71 in the second innings, said it was a 'nice feeling' to be on the brink of a historic victory.

"Still one more wicket to go. It would have been better if we had been able to finish it off today," he said.

Kumble, who missed the tri-series finals against Australia and also did not play in the One-day series against Pakistan, said his shoulder was holding well. "It was a minor shoulder strain with a bit of history to it, it is holding well," he said.

He said the huge score the batsmen had put up helped the bowlers put pressure on Pakistan. "Initially the openers (Taufiq Umar and Imran Farhat) were playing their shots. I concentrated on bowling a good line and length and with runs on the board we were able to put pressure on them."

The fourth day bucked the domination of the bat and fetched 13 wickets for the bowlers at the cost of just 250 runs while the previous three days saw 1039 runs being scored for the return of 11 wickets.

Kumble, however, said the Indians were not bothered about the flat nature of the Multan track.

"We did not give much thought to the pitch. This team has worked hard and has belief in itself. Whatever the nature of the track, we always put the best foot forward and be positive," he said.

He was praised the efforts of Irfan Pathan who grabbed career best four for 100 in Pakistan's first innings.

"Pathan has come on really well since Australia. It is amazing for a 19-year old to do so well in his first season."

With India on the threshold of a historic victory, Kumble said his performance in Pakistan's second innings was largely possible because of his batsmen who made his job easier by posting a huge first innings total.

Kumble, who picked a record 10 wickets in the 1999 series against Pakistan, proved to be the nemesis for the archrivals, picking six wickets for 71 in the second innings to help bring India on the verge of their first win on Pakistan soil ever.

But the leggie felt the contribution of the batsmen could not be ignored on the placid track.

"It is still a placid track, whatever we have achieved is mainly because the batsmen put up a huge score on the board. It put enormous pressure on the opposition batsmen," said Kumble.

Following on after conceding a first innings lead of 268, Pakistan were precariously placed at 207 for nine at stumps on the penultimate day with the visitors needing to claim just one wicket on the last day on Thursday.

Kumble said the Indians would try to take the remaining one wicket as early as possible on Thursday. "It would be a great moment for the team to record its first win on Pakistani soil. It will be a great achievement, great feeling. The team has worked very hard over the last couple of years and has started winning matches overseas. This will be a really special win and I am happy that I could contribute a little bit," he said.

"This performance will give me immense satisfaction. At the end of the day, you can go back knowing that you have done your bit for the team. You can look back with pride. We have not won a Test series here and it will be good to start with a victory."

The veteran spinner said the track was good for batting and felt that the rivals had collapsed because of the psychological pressure of conceding such a big lead.

"One good thing about this team is that it believes that it can win, whatever the conditions. If we win tomorrow, it will be another big achievement."

Asked whether he found it difficult to adjust after coming back from a two-month injury lay off, Kumble said, "actually I felt quite nice after bowling the first few overs. Actually, I continued from where I had left in Sydney. The ball was coming out well and it made it easier," he said.

Kumble said he had never paid much attention to critics who have often questioned his ability and believed that he was effective on home tracks only.

"I am not here to prove anybody wrong. I don't mind what people say. At the end of the day, what matters is how many wickets you take. Every time I step onto the field, I try to give my best."

On what was the key to his success, Kumble said, "there is no secret for success. I just like to bowl and try to take as many wickets as possible".

Asked whether he had not got due recognition for his match-winning performances over the years, he said, "when you play cricket, you don't look for recognition. I believe I have got my recognition. The amount of respect I get from my teammates and opposition players, this is what matters to me".

Asked whether he had any regrets for not finishing off the game on Wednesday, he said, "getting a result out of this track shows how the team has improved. The track was flat and gave no assistance to the bowlers, full credit to the team. There is bound to be one partnership, but we are happy that it is the ninth wicket and not the second or third one".

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