Ever since he has become Team India coach, Anil Kumble has been working extra hard with the bowlers. He watches them closely during nets and is often seen offering tips to both pacers and spinners. Ironically , Kumble’s first media interaction since the start of the West Indies series happened on a day his bowlers had a dreadful day in office. In 88.1 overs on the final day of the second Test on Wednesday , India could take only two wickets, one of which came through an umpiring mistake as the hosts managed to eke out an improbable draw.
What was his assessment of the day’s play? Kumble was ready with his response. “Obviously , we wanted to win this Test. Yesterday (Tuesday), I thought, we were in a very good position and credit to the West Indies batsmen, the way they batted.“
Kumble lamented the fact that his bowlers didn’t have time to finish things off on the fourth day itself. “Yesterday (Tuesday), the time was very crucial for us, because we had great momentum and the conditions were such that, it could have been different if we had probably bowled. There was loss of play , more than 100 overs in this Test match. All those factors mattered.“
When asked if India delayed the declaration on the third day of the Test, Kumble reiterated the team line. “I don’t think so. You can’t really look at the forecast and take decisions. Yes, you strategise slightly differently . Having said that, we wanted to bat only once because if we had declared at the end of second day with 160 on the board, you may have had to bat today (Wednesday).It’s all nice to now sit and say when we should have declared, but I thought we played really good cricket.This is something that happens in a Test. There are times when the opposition puts up a brave challenge.“
What were the instructions to the bowlers as the day progressed? “The plan was always to take wickets. Initially, since we had 300 on the board, we were attacking and they came hard at us as well, and they got away in the first five or six overs. They got a lot of runs. And once that one-hour period happened, I believe the ball went a bit soft as well. So it was quite difficult to get the purchase that we we’re getting yesterday and the conditions were different as well.“
Kumble, though, admitted that the bowlers could have adapted better to the conditions on the final day .“We could have probably adapted better, but having said that the West Indian batsmen really applied themselves, so it was quite hard for our bowlers and this was certainly a learning experience. I’m sure, when the next opportunity comes, the bowlers will probably come up with a different approach.“
Wednesday’s play yet again proved cricket is a game of glorious uncertainties. What did the boys learn? A smiling Kumble said, “If everything happened just how we tho ught it would, life would be very easy . In the morning we were keen to win the Test and confident that we would. At tea, even when they were 15 ahead, and there were 30 overs left, we still felt that we could win.The approach that we want to win does not change at any stage. But, yes, there’s plenty to learn from this game. When you bowl on the last day , trying to win a match and get only two wickets bowling almost 90 overs, you will learn things. We will sit and talk about this.“