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Anand Vasu in Delhi
December 12, 2005
Anil Kumble did the early damage, scything through the Sri Lankan batting line-up, picking up 6 for 72 and giving India a vital first-innings lead. Irfan Pathan, opening the batting for the first time in a Test match, then ensured that the good work did not go waste, scoring 93. Chaminda Vaas meanwhile became only the fifth Asian fast bowler, after Imran Khan, Kapil Dev, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis, to pick up 300 Test wickets. All three spoke to the media at the end of the day.
On missing out on his century
I am a little disappointed not to get to a hundred, but I am happy that I made 93 and contributed to the team's cause. I was told last night to be prepared to open, and I was told this morning before we went out to field that I would definitely be opening. I was well prepared for the task. I wasn't told anything specific by the captain and the coach. They told me to play my natural game, but to also remember that this was a Test match and not a one-day international.
On his approach to opening the innings
I was trying to be a bit more aggressive, and I told myself that if the ball was in my area of hitting, I would hit it. I didn't go in with any negative thoughts, I went in with a pretty positive frame of mind. Opening the innings is very difficult. Especially in Test cricket, there is more responsibility as an opener. We have specialist openers who are doing the job, I only opened here because Viru [Sehwag] wasn't playing.
On whether he now considered himself an allrounder
It's not that I didn't have confidence in my batting before today, but I don't want to think of myself as an allrounder yet. If the people and the media want to call me that, that's their choice. I know my limitations, and I play within them. It will take time for me to become an allrounder, I will need to perform consistently for two-three years. When I feel confident that I am an allrounder, I will then tell the world myself that I am now an allrounder.
On the pitch
This is no different from the other Kotla pitches. If anything, there is a little less bounce than earlier but it still assists the batsmen. Except for a little more grass than in the past, it's the same as tracks that have been here.
On whether experience helped him bowl on this pitch
Experience comes in handy on any track. But more than that, you need to bowl in the right areas and keep creating pressure from both ends. Only then can you pick up wickets. Experience does help, yes, but you need to put pressure on the batsman. Anyone of Irfan, Ajit, Harbhajan or myself could have got the wickets; fortunately for me, I got the wickets, just as Murali did for them.
On what India discussed in huddles on the field when a partnership was on
We reiterated to each other that we are a good side, and that we are one breakthrough away from making a game of it. We had gone a little quiet in the field, and we needed to gear ourselves up. We knew it wouldn't be easy for a new batsman coming in in fading light, and that, sort of, acted as a motivation.
On the gameplan for tomorrow
The idea will be to get as many runs as possible, at least a hundred more for starters. They already have to get the maximum runs in an innings in this Test if they are to win in this position, and the more we get, the more fielders we can have around the bat for longer periods of time.
On reaching the milestone
I am really glad to have achieved that milestone. I have been playing international cricket for more than ten years now, and I have been waiting for this moment for a long time. I am very happy. It is not easy being a fast bowler in the subcontinent, where there is little help from the conditions, but you can't really complain. I am just happy that I have joined a select club.
On being only the second Sri Lankan after Muttiah Muralitharan, to pick up 300 Test wickets
Murali is one of the best in the world, no doubt about that. Having him bowling at the other end is a big boost, and bowling with him has helped me a lot. I am very happy for Murali.
On the work he has put in recently to regain form
I have been bowling well after those one-day internationals, and I will try to keep that going in the next Test and beyond. When we went back home, I corrected my run-up and my follow through with bowling coach Champaka Ramanayake and coach Tom Moody. Now I feel a lot more comfortable with my bowling.
On Sri Lanka's chances in the game
The wicket is still a pretty good one. We have to get them out quickly tomorrow. If we can restrict their lead to 350, I think we have a very good chance of getting those runs. But the first priority, obviously, is to bowl them out quickly tomorrow morning.
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