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Kumble defends late declaration

December 12, 2007 20:58 IST

The third and final Test between India and Pakistan was heading for a predictable draw on Wednesday till Anil Kumble turned on his magic in the dying moments.

It was a match dominated by the batsmen, except for the last session, when Kumble stole the thunder with a magical five-wicket burst before Pakistan escaped with a draw courtesy of bad light. Pakistan finished on 162 for 7 in 36 overs chasing an improbable target of 374 in 48 overs to lose the three-match series 0-1.

It was not Kumble's leg-spinners or googlies that did the trick, but shockingly he opted to bowl medium pacers to take advantage of the uneven bounce and it worked.

"Yeah it was planned before I went out. I decided it in the morning and I bowled a few warm-up balls in the morning. There was no spin or bounce on the wickets and the only way to get people out was through balls that kept low and you had to bowl a bit quicker so that the batsmen didn't have enough time to adjust. Maybe I should have done it in the first innings as well," the Indian captain said.

Kumble took five wickets for 60 runs in 14 overs as Pakistan collapsed from 44 for no loss to a precarious 154 for 7 in the space of 20 overs. And even Kumble, who was a medium pacer as a youngster in his school days and then switched to leg-spin, seemed surprised getting five wickets and that too at his home ground.

"It is good to finish with a five-wicket haul at this ground. I never realised that after 25 years I have to bowl medium-pace to get five wickets in Bangalore. My family and friends were here and it was great," he said.

He also defended declaring the Indian innings quite late on the final day, making it clear that the top priority was to ensure a series victory and defend the 1-0 series lead.

"1-0 is fine. It was important to win the series. On this wicket the only option to get wickets was when the ball kept low, which means you needed ten balls to keep low and that could happen in 40 overs or in 150 overs!

'I think whenever I declared was the right decision. In hindsight I probably should have bowled medium pace in the first innings. We had to get to a situation where we could absolutely ensure a series victory and then yes we had a great opportunity and if the weather had stayed clear, we would have ended up winning the game. We thought 45 overs were enough," Kumble said.

"There might be people who would say that we should have declared earlier and some others who would say we should have batted on. That's all ifs and buts, but if we had known the weather would be like this, I might have declared yesterday itself. It's all different," the veteran added.

It was the 37-year-old's first match in charge of the Test team and he was delighted to end up on the winning side.

"It is a great victory. It is always special to win a Test series be it at home or abroad and to win it against Pakistan is special," the ace leggie said.

Kumble also lauded his team, who despite all odds, managed to dominate the Pakistanis in the drawn encounter.

"We had to stand up and be counted. We lost two crucial bowlers earlier and two critical batsmen just before the game and I think Sourav [Ganguly] and Yuvraj [Singh] played brilliantly to take us to safety and ensured that there could be only one winner in the game," he said.

The leggie applauded Ganguly's contribution after the left-hander scored 534 in the series at an average of 89 with a best score of 239.

"Sourav is in the form of his life and I hope he carries it on and continues to score in Australia."

India won the first Test in Delhi by six wickets, before two successive draws in Kolkata and Bangalore on dead pitches. He paid rich tributes to the visitors and said they showed great courage at crucial times in both the drawn matches.

"If Pakistan hadn't bounced back we would have won the series 3-0. They did bounce back in Kolkata when wickets were down and Misbah and Kamran [Akmal] ensured they got to safety," he said.

Kumble also refused to blame the administrators for the confusion in switching on the floodlights, despite the two teams agreeing not to use artificial lights.

"Probably someone who switched on the lights was not aware. It was decided before the series that we won't be using artificial lights and that was it. Anyway the light kept deteriorating. If I was in the Pakistan team, I would have said it was bad light and if I was in the Indian team I would have said it is good light. We have to go by the umpire's decision and it was fair," he said.

When refused to rate his captaincy, Kumble offered a straight reply: "It's for others to say. I do sit down and analyse my game but I don't award points to myself. For me I had to ensure that we win the series and play to the best of our ability."

The Indian captain sounded optimistic when asked about India's chances in Australia during their four-Test series starting later this month.

"We have the best players to compete in Australia . The batters are in good form and I am sure the few injuries would be okay. I think we are well equipped," he declared.

"It's a comfort factor to know that all your top batsmen are in great form and in good nick. We have the batters to get the runs on the board," he added.

Harish Kotian in Bangalore