India v England, 2nd Test, Mohali, 3rd day March 11, 2006

'I believe every ball can get a wicket' - Kumble

'I have never doubted myself' - Anil Kumble © Getty Images

At the end of a satisfying day, one Anil Kumble will remember for long, he cut a cake with his team-mates in the Long Room at the Punjab Cricket Association stadium in Mohali. The bubbly was uncorked and the team celebrated with Kumble moments before he addressed a lengthy press conference

On getting to the milestone of 500 wickets
It's a great feeling to reach a milestone like this. What makes it more special is the fact that only four other bowlers have got to the 500-mark and I am the first Indian to do so.

On how he'd sum up his journey in cricket in 16 years
I'd say I've persevered. When I began people questioned my kind of bowling and even now people do. I guess after 16 years that has still not been answered and I find that strange. I've just gone into every game thinking I need to perform, to contribute something to the team.

On what has kept him going all these years
I've always had the self-belief that I can perform at this level. There have been doubts created by other people over my ability to perform. When you play for 16 years people are bound to create such doubts. But I have never doubted myself. And nor have my team-mates and my family. Coming back from my shoulder injury [in 2000-01] was crucial.

On what the next target is
Already the tally is 501. How many more wickets depends on my body and the schedule, so I can't really say what the target is. Warne has 659, Murali just got to 600 yesterday, hopefully I'll also scale those heights some day.

On setting up batsmen
When I bowl I believe every ball can get a wicket. That's my attitude. Obviously you try and set up a batsman, get him to play a few shots. Some days it works and some days it doesn't. You're always trying to play a mental game with the batsman. If you consistently ask questions of the batsmen you are bound to be successful.

On how he continues to strive to improve after 16 years in international cricket
You need to constantly evolve and bring up some variations because these days even before you step out, the opposition knows everything about you. I still try to bowl the classical legspinner, the classical flipper and the classical googly. That's the only way to enjoy yourself. The day I think I've had enough of trying out new things, I won't be playing the game.

On whether he had fears that he may never bowl again after his shoulder injury
There were fears that I may not bowl again, when I had the surgery. It took two months to just lift my hand. Playing cricket at the international level was a distant thought. That's when my wife, Andrew Leipus, Omkar [yoga expert in Bangalore] and Ramakant [Karnataka team physiotherapist] constantly motivated me and helped me in my rehabilitation. Also the thought that one day when I bowl there would be no pain was enough motivation. Srinath's coming back to international cricket after a similar surgery also gave me lot of strength.

On how he seems to be bowling at his best in the recent past
The last couple of years have been good. The experience that I've gained over the years and the way the ball is coming out of the hand has been good. The number of overs I have bowled over the last 16 years have helped me in understanding what needs to be done. The last three years have been really good.

On the memorable wickets along the way
The first wicket of Allan Lamb, which was where it all started. The 10-wicket haul against Pakistan in Delhi was special. Also the performance against Australia at Sydney [in early 2005] ... There have been many special moments. When we won against Australia at Adelaide ... the series win in Pakistan in 2004.

On whom he dedicates reaching this milestone to
I dedicate this to all those players who have played with me. To the fielders who took the catches, the fellow bowlers who applied pressure from the other end, to batsmen who put runs on the board ... I would not have got 500 wickets if they had not played their part.

On what Matthew Hoggard, Kumble's 300th victim, had to say when the wicket of Harmison fell
He suggested that I might have been more happy if I'd picked up the wicket of a batsman as my 500th.

Anand Vasu is assistant editor of Cricinfo