BANGALORE : Only the third spinner after Bishen Singh Bedi and S Venkataraghvan to become the captain of Indian team, Anil Kumble says as a bowler he knows the ’subtleties’ of the game well and can use that knowledge while leading the country in Test matches.
In an exclusive interview, Kumble said he is aware of the responsibility associated with the job and captaincy has come at a time in his career when he can ‘relish the challenge’.
Kumble also feels that the new-found aggression in the young Indian team was always there.
Regarded as a fighter on the field, the 37-year-old sees nothing wrong in the younger lot showing their emotions on the ground.
India’s most successful bowler speaks about the new challenge, his expectations from the team and the forthcoming three-match Test series against Pakistan.
Q: Nice Diwali gift for you?
A: I think it has come on a nice auspicious day. It is a nice feeling.
Q: Was it a surprise to you?
A: I don’t think it was a surprise. People were discussing about me as a contender. There were lot of discussions happening. Yeah, I mean it was only after actually Sachin pulled out that the likelihood of they (selectors) looking at me as a captain happened.
Q: Do you feel that Test captaincy coming after 17 long years has happened too late towards the fag end of your career?
A: Better late than never. I think it has come at a time when I think I can relish this challenge. I ensure that I go out there and enjoy my cricket and enjoy being captain of India.
Q: Do you think the selectors have gone for a stop-gap arrangement?
A: No, I haven’t really sat down and spoken to them. I really don’t know what they have in mind. So it’s a bit too early for me to say anything on that.
Q: Do you hope to continue as captain for the forthcoming Australian tour and also the home series against South Africa early next year?
A: I would like to take one step at a time. So I still have not really sat down with the selectors and found out what exactly they have in mind. But I’m sure that will happen very soon.
Q: You are the 30th captain and third spinner after Bishen Singh Bedi and Venkatraghavan in Indian Test cricket? How does it feel?
A: I think it’s a great challenge for a bowler to be captain of India and it is not looked at very positively in India for some strange reasons. I am happy that the selectors and the people have shown a lot of faith in me and I hope to live up to those expectations. As a bowler I understand the subtleties of the game. Hopefully I would be able to use that knowledge when it comes to captaining.
Q: As a captain what are your expectations from the Indian team now?
A: I don’t think expectations would change as a player or as a captain. We have discussions and people who have played the game for long definitely express their views in a team meeting and I don’t see that changing much. But the expectations would be to ensure that we are consistent. We try and build a team that will be consistent over a period of time.
Q: How do you see this new-found aggression in Team India now? Do you feel this Indian team after their T20 success has transformed?
A: I think we’ve always been aggressive. I don’t think Team India has found any new aggression after T20 triumph. It’s just that there has been a lot of presence on the field. I mean it’s just that the younger lot show flare and emotions on the field which is good.
Q: Personally have you set any target now that you have 566 Test wickets, third behind Shane Warne (708) and Muttiah Muralitharan (702)?
A: Absolutely none. I just want to go out and enjoy my game and ensure that I contribute to the team’s success, to whatever I was doing before. I would like to continue that if not better whatever I was doing. It’s important for me to ensure that we win every time we go out, that’s the personal target and team goal.
Q: How do you see this Pakistan team touring India now?
A: They have a good side. They have always done well whenever they have played us and we respect that. I think we have the potential and the team to win. I am hopeful and pretty confident that we will be able to do that.
Q: In Inzamam’s absence, post-retirement, do you see India holding an upperhand?
A: I think Inzy is a great player. It is very difficult to replace a player like him within a matter of couple of matches. But having said that Pakistan still have Md Yousuf and Younus Khan while Misbah-ul-Haq looks pretty good and then they have Shoaib Malik. (Shahid) Afridi and Salman Butt can be dangerous. So they still have a pretty good batting order. It will be an evenly-contested series.
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