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'My best win ever' - Kumble

He's been around for close to 18 years, in a career spanning 124 Tests, but Anil Kumble had no hesitation in calling the victory at Perth as his "best win ever". He felt his side had adapted better to the conditions but said it was more satisfying because of what had gone on before.
Kumble, it must be mentioned, wasn't part of the historic triumph in Kolkata in 2001 but put this win ahead of other memorable contests from the past. He also added that his team now had the claim to being the second best side in the world. "It's right at the top," he said when asked to place this win in context. "It's not just overseas but when I look back at wherever I was involved, both home and away, it's right up there. Definitely, I think we have competed well with Australia. It's important we take this momentum forward and square the series.

"The most important thing - after what had happened in Sydney - was to play good cricket. We wanted to show that the Indian cricket team is a good Test unit. Even in Sydney, we put in a good effort but didn't get the result that we wanted. What's heartening is that we've shown that in what's regarded as the home turf for Australia."

It's been close to 11 years since Australia last lost a Test in Perth and few gave India a chance when they got here. Kumble, though, felt his side had read the conditions perfectly. "We came fully prepared what to expect," he said. "Maybe people had other things in their mind but we knew that this was not that kind of a quick, bouncy track. It was important to pitch the ball up and swing it. We did that. And the batsmen stood up to all the challenges that came their way."

Did he have any hesitation about batting first on this surface? "Not really. We have the quality and experience in the team," he said. "There are four [players] with more than 100 Tests and others who have been around for a while. It's important we all got together and played good cricket. It was important we batted first on this pitch and knew if we put runs on the board, we could apply pressure on the Aussies."

What made this win even more astonishing is that it came on the back of a serious crisis. The mercury levels had risen after the Sydney Test and there was speculation that the tour was in doubt. Within a few days though, especially after India dropped the charge against Brad Hogg, it was clear they wanted to move on. "We were determined to win much before even Melbourne," he said, "but it was important we stuck together in the week in Sydney and Canberra.

"Going to Canberra was probably a good thing for us," he said. "We were away from everybody. We did discuss how we're going to go forward, how to play as a team. That's when we had decided we'll concentrate on cricket. We focussed all our efforts into concentrating on this game. I did discuss it individually and also collectively. I'm delighted they all came together. We needed to think positively and the kind of bonding we had is special."

Would he put the Indo-Australian rivalry ahead of India-Pakistan, especially given the recent contests? "It's very difficult to take away the kind of equation we have in India-Pakistan [matches]. But India-Australia is about the kind of cricket that is played. At Sydney the game went right down to the wire, probably [till the] last five minutes, and here too. The thing when you play a side like Australia is you need to keep the intensity right throughout the game."