Ace legspinner sets his targets November 17, 2005

Kumble upbeat about touching 500-wicket mark


Anil Kumble - Blood, sweat and lots of wickets © Getty Images
Working his way back to form and fitness, Anil Kumble, the legspinner with the tally of 465 wickets, is upbeat about touching the magical 500-wicket mark this season starting with the three-Test 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," said Kumble. " I have been practising with the Karnataka team. In fact I am looking forward to Karnataka's Ranji Trophy match against Railways so that I can test myself in a match situation."

Kumble's decision to play in the Ranji match, starting on November 23 in Delhi, may have something to do with the Indian Board's directive that injured players must prove their fitness in a domestic game before making themselves available for selection to the national team. Kumble, 35 wickets short of joining the elite 500 club, said the series against Sri lanka would provide him an opportunity to get closer. "Thirty five 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."

Kumble said the 6-1 one-day series victory over Sri Lanka 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," he added. "Our track record in Tests has been good, so we hope to have a good game against them."

He 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, " far as experimentations are concerned, 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 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 in the Challenger Series in Mohali. He was all praise for Greg Chappell, the coach, although he admitted he has not had too much interaction with him. "It is certainly a big help to have someone with so much experience around."