Kumble upbeat about touching 500-wicket mark

Published: Thursday, November 17, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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New Delhi:Working his way back to form and fitness, ace leg spinner Anil Kumble is upbeat about touching the magical 500-wicket mark this season starting with the three-Test cricket series against Sri Lanka next month.

Kumble, who was left out of the One-day squad for the home series against Sri Lanka and South Africa on fitness grounds, is now fit and raring to make a comeback to competitive cricket.

"I had a slight niggle in the back but I am fine now. I have been practising with the Karnataka team. In fact I am looking forward to Karnataka's Ranji Trophy match againstRailways so that I can test myself in a match situation," Kumble told PTI here today.

Kumble's decision to play in the Ranji match, starting here on November 23, may have something to do with the Cricket Board's directive that injured players must prove theirfitness in a domestic game before making themselves available for selection to the national team.

The Bangalore bowler is 35 wickets short of joining the elite 500 club and the spinner said the series against Sri lanka would provide him an opportunity to do so.

"35 wickets from three Tests is a little tight, but yes, 500 is a realistic target. I am looking forward to that feat and starting my season on a good note," said the genial player.

Kumble said the 6-1 one-day series victory over the Lankans would help India go in to the Test series with confidence.

"The series victory over them will give us the confidence as we play the Tests which nevertheless would be a different ball game altogether. Our track record in Tests has been good, so we hope to have a good game against them."

The bowler did not think that public interest in the Test series would be on the wane given that the two teams had played a One-day series earlier.

"I do not think the interest level will come down. Test cricket has its own charm, the match against England and Pakistan which ended yesterday was a close game. It was as thrilling as it gets."

Kumble said he was very happy to see the recent resurgence of the Indian team and the performance of the youngsters.

"It (the performance of the team) has been really good. It is a healthy sign indeed but we have to continue the good show, this is what is most important."

Asked about the team management's various experiments with the batting order and going into matches with as many as five bowlers, he said, "as far as experimentations areconcerned, the results are there for everyone to see, results do matter and if the results are good, the process must be good as well.

"It is good to see youngsters coming through. It is still early days but obviously the talent is there. It is important that we continue to do well," Kumble said.

Kumble said he had not seen much of upcoming spinner Piyush Chawla who is being spoken highly of by cricket pundits, especially ever since he scalped Sachin Tendulkar inthe Challenger series in Mohali.

"I have not watched him much, I've just seen him bowl a couple of times in the nets," said the bowler.

The veteran spinner was all praise for coach Greg Chappell although he admitted he has not had too much interaction with the legendary Aussie.

"I have not had too much interaction with him. But it is certainly a big help to have someone with so much experience around."

He refused to be drawn into the controversy revolving Sourav Ganguly's ouster from the team or the debate over whether the Board was treating its heroes shabbily.

"I can only speak for myself, I cannot comment on any other person," was all that he said.

On the selectors' insistence that nothing but performance will count towards selection, he said, "there is nothing new in it, performance has always been the criterion for selection."

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