Adelaide will push us further - Kumble
"I thought about this in Sydney in 2004," said Anil Kumble with a smile, "but I think this time it will be my last match in Australia for sure." The final Test in Adelaide offers India a chance to draw level but also promises to be the last time the five members of the golden generation will play in a Test match in Australia.
Kumble has had a roller-coaster ride through his three tours here. He was rendered ineffective in 1999 before reviving his career last time around, snapping up 24 wickets in three Tests. He's been a big threat here too and needs just two more victims to snap up 50 wickets in Australia. Among Indians, only Kapil Dev (51) has managed more.
"It's been fantastic in Australia," said Kumble the day before the game. "It's my third trip here and I've enjoyed all my visits. In terms of results, the last one was fantastic and this one as well. We're thoroughly enjoying this tour. We came with the purpose of winning a series in Australia but haven't achieved that. But we can hold our heads high after this - hoping we level the series. Future Indian teams will come here and look at the past. I'm really proud of what this team has done."
It was in Adelaide that Kumble saw his Test career being revived. Harbhajan Singh injured his finger and Kumble was given a chance in the second Test last time around. He endured a hammering on the opening day but came back with an iron-willed performance. "Indeed a special venue," he said. "It all started here in 2003-04. It was important we won the Test and the last four years have been fantastic for me personally and for Indian cricket. Here we are again, with the opportunity to level the series. Having done well in the past in Adelaide, gives us the added confidence."
Was he confident that this bunch of five players - Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly, VVS Laxman and himself - could be replaced? "It's difficult to replace anybody. You can see that in the current Australian team itself. Every team will undergo a transition. The key is how you handle it. There is definitely a lot of talent in India. It's about ensuring they get the confidence and probably 4-5 years from now, you'll have a good set of players to ensure India goes forward."
The most heartening aspect of this tour, according to Kumble, was the manner in which the young bowlers have exceeded expectations. RP Singh has grown into the leader of the pack, Irfan Pathan has shown the desire to come back and Ishant Sharma, just 19, has got tongues wagging with his seam movement. "I remember the first press conference here and I was asked about us picking up 20 wickets. We've shown we can do that. Although we don't have the senior most bowler in terms of experience [Zaheer Khan] the young fast bowlers have stepped up."
Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is an assistant editor at Cricinfo