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October 17, 2002
Ringing in his 32nd birthday with a lethal spell of bowling that saw him scalp 5/30, the twentieth five-wicket bag of his career, Anil Kumble put India firmly in the driver's seat at the end of the first day of the second Test at the MA Chidambaram stadium at Chepauk.
An obviously tired Kumble, ice-pack on a stiff shoulder, spoke to a handful of pressmen soon after the day's play. And yes, he did think the wicket of Shivnarine Chanderpaul was one he would remember for some time to come.
"Obviously it was special to get Chanderpaul's wicket. He has scored heavily against us so many times and it was good to get him today. Parthiv Patel took a brilliant catch to dismiss Chanderpaul as there as quite a bit of extra bounce in that delivery. Patel is doing well and I think he has a bright future ahead of him," said the Karnataka leggie.
When the day began, there was disappointment for fans as India lost the toss and were asked to field. Kumble agreed that losing the toss was a blow.
"The toss was crucial and when we lost it we tried to go out there and get them out as quickly as possible. It's a new wicket we're playing on and we were not sure how it would behave. We were happy to restrict West Indies to just 167."
The newly-laid wicket was a topic of much discussion and despite picking up five wickets Kumble admitted that it was not an ideal wicket to bowl on.
"I don't think it was a great first-day wicket because there was nothing in it for the fast bowlers. In the beginning there was not much bounce and all you could do was bowl wicket to wicket and maintain a good line. This was the best thing to do and it worked," he observed.
After an initial spell of 1/20 from 15 overs, Kumble really turned the heat on in the post-tea session where he scalped 4/10 from 8.3 overs.
"After I got a couple of wickets, things started happening for me. There was a bit of bounce in the wicket after tea and I was helped by the fact that Bhajji (Harbhajan) kept one end tight. Sri (Srinath) and Zaheer also picked up crucial wickets and that helped us a lot," he said.
In the recent past several of Kumble's critics have had ammunition to go after him as the leggie was not returning the kind of figures that saw him become India's spearhead. The Karnataka ace insisted that this put no pressure on him coming into this series.
"I was never under any pressure. Having played cricket at this level for so many years I know that you have to take things as they come. People will talk and write different things, that's their opinion. My job is just to go out there and take wickets. I'm not there to answer to critics. I feel that I can still deliver with the ball and I will keep playing so long as I feel that way. When I can't do this, I will know and people will come to know."
What's wrong with their cricket? Well, what isn't?