India v Pakistan, 2nd Test, Kolkata, 5th day December 4, 2007

'No moral victory for Pakistan' - Kumble

Anil Kumble: "When you struggle to pick up five wickets in both innings, that's no moral victory to me. I think overall we dominated the match over the five days" © AFP

"I don't believe in moral victories. It's really crazy, I don't know why people talk about moral victories," Anil Kumble said, rather emphatically at the end of the second Test when it was put to him that Geoff Lawson, Pakistan's coach, had suggested that his team had won a moral victory in battling out a draw. "When you struggle to pick up five wickets in both innings, that's no moral victory to me. To me what matters is the result and I think overall we dominated the match over the five days."

Just minutes before Kumble's press conference Lawson had addressed the media, and when asked if his team had won a moral victory, he said, "At 78 for 4, you know you had a lot of work to do but in our batting order we had a few down the order who had spent some time at the wicket in the first innings. So you feel you can survive. And the two experienced players [Younis Khan and Mohammad Yousuf] batting in the middle, did prove they were the two most experienced players. When you have people who have been in that situation before, you always believe you can escape with a draw. You are obviously a bit nervous, but we felt that the pitch was still good enough for us to get through. Younis and Yousuf played like veterans and the highly talented players they are. It took a lot to get through but they were good enough."

The one thing Kumble and Lawson, and just about everyone else who watched this game, agreed on was the nature of the pitch. "I think we all expected the pitch to do a bit more on the fourth and fifth day," said Lawson. "It was just the foot-holes that did something and it did hang together quite well so that made batting a little bit easier on the fourth and fifth day. I think it surprised a lot of us that it was so good for batting on the last day."

Kumble said it had been tough to bowl on the pitch. "It got slower and slower and even when it spun, it spun very slowly. Considering the pitch and the conditions I thought our bowlers put in a fantastic effort," said Kumble, and suggested it was the time of the year that ensured that pitch did not break up more than it did, even on the final day. "It's winter here so there's a bit more moisture in the surface so even if the sun comes out, and it's not really harsh, the wicket tends to be on the slower side. Maybe that's one of the reasons. It's produced two good Test matches, but not really for the bowlers. It's been really tiring for the bowlers to try and ensure that 20 wickets are taken. We did really well to get at least 14."

But pitches in Kolkata have not always been bowling graveyards. In the past India has won dramatic victories in the last couple of days of Test matches. "They [earlier pitches] had a bit more pace and that really helped. As the game progressed when there were a few footmarks and the ball landed in them the ball carried."

Kumble did not want to look forward to the Bangalore Test just yet. "I've said it in Delhi and at the start of the Test. I'd like to re-iterate it here: toss, pitch and weather are things I don't want to think about," said Kumble when asked if the toss would be crucial in the last Test.

Lawson suggested, with tongue firmly in cheek, that his team was thinking about the possibility of a win late on the final day. "In the last 15 overs we only needed 11 an over to win. So I did actually mention it in the dressing room and the fact that Younis was batting and he did play a sweep shot past point last ball before the drinks break, I thought he must be thinking the same thing. Yes, I did think about it but we decided to play out time."

Anand Vasu is an associate editor at Cricinfo