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Century is very special: Kumble
Harish Kotian in London | August 11, 2007 09:21 IST
Anil Kumble may never have imagined that a casual joke would turn out be true.
"I jokingly mentioned at tea time, when I was batting on 60, that, maybe, it is my turn to go out there and scored a hundred.
"We had a team meeting a couple of days back and I mentioned that it is about time that our batters scored a hundred. And I never thought I would be the one to score a hundred," he said after the end of the second day's play in the third Test against England [Images] at The Oval on Friday.
Kumble led the way with a superb knock of 110 as India amassed a mammoth 664 in their first innings to put themselves on the verge of a first series triumph in England in 21 years.
No Indian batsmen had scored a century in this series, and who would have thought Kumble would be the first to score one, considering that he never crossed the three-figure mark in his previous 117 Tests.
In fact, in this Test itself, Dinesh Karthik (91), Sachin Tendulkar [Images] (82) and Mahendra Singh Dhoni [Images] (92) missed out on centuries and it seemed that India would not get one. But out came the old warrior and, slowly but steadily, went on to cross the milestone, a remarkable achievement for a bowler, who has scalped 561 wickets in his career.
"I think I always believe that it is possible whenever I go out there. I came pretty close to it in 1996 [in South Africa] and I never thought I would have to wait 117 Test matches; so it's very special," he said.
In fact, Kumble established a dubious world record when he scored his maiden Test hundred in his 118th Test match. He surpassed Sri Lanka's [Images] Chaminda Vaas [Images], who scored his maiden hundred while playing in his 97th Test.
"I always would like to get a hundred in Test cricket. It is a sense of fulfillment, in the sense that I have achieved what everyone dreams of. When you start playing you always believe that you can bat, and I think, throughout my career, I have put a price on my wicket. I know as a bowler how difficult it is to get a wicket and today it paid off," the 36-year-old said.
He lauded his team mates, who, he said, gave him good support.
"The support I got from [S] Sreesanth [Images], obviously [Mahendra Singh] Dhoni initially, and Zaheer [Khan] was very important. Sree kept saying that you deserve a hundred, I will hang in don't worry. He probably came to close to getting a fifty himself.
"I think every innings was important. If you look at the opening partnership between Wasim [Jaffer] and Dinesh Karthik, it was crucial. You win the toss and bat first, it is very important to get off to a good start; so that start was very crucial. From then on Rahul [Dravid] built that partnership with Dinesh Karthik. So each partnership is useful. It was very important for us today to get off to a good start and Sachin [Tendulkar] and [VVS] Laxman did that. Then Dhoni and Sachin; so it was very important to build on partnerships and each and every batsman contributed. The lower order also contributed, so I think it was a total team effort," he added.
Kumble reached the milestone in quite bizarre fashion, when he stepped down the wicket to Kevin Pietersen [Images] and got a thick bottom edge that went past wicketkeeper Matt Prior [Images]. But whatever way it came, the ace leg-spinner was delighted that he achieved it.
"You always get four runs when you score there [behind the wicketkeeper]. It was just one ball away when I got to 97 so I knew I had to take a chance and it just paid off. I am really happy that I was able to get there; it is very special," he said.
He admitted that flashes of his fellow leg-spinner Shane Warne [Images] missing out on a century came across his mind as he went through the nervous nineties.
"Warnie came really close. That thought was definitely there when I was batting� that I should not slog and get out on 99. It is good to get a Test hundred," Kumble admitted.
He stressed that India would now try and go for an outright victory with the pitch also deteriorating steadily.
"We would like to win this Test and that is how we will approach. I think we are capable of winning this Test match. 640 runs is a lot of runs and we have three days to go. I think the wicket will only suit us as the game goes on and we have a great chance to 2-0 up," he said.
He said he would not celebrate yet, but wait till the end of the series.
"I think we will wait for all the celebrations till the end of the Test match. I think it is important for us to ensure that we win this Test match."
Even Mahendra Singh Dhoni admitted that the entire team was ecstatic with Kumble getting to his maiden Test century.
"We were enjoying each and every stroke, but we were pretty worried when Sreesanth was on strike. But, you know, it was the last wicket and anything can happen in cricket. But, definitely, we enjoyed Anil's innings. And you can make out from his expression on getting the hundred, because you don't see Anilbhai laughing and celebrating like that most of the time. It was amazing, a really remarkable moment and we enjoyed each and every part of it," Dhoni said.