Anil Kumble, a stalwart of Indian cricket, stands as a testament to unwavering determination and skill. His legacy, etched with remarkable achievements, encompasses being India’s most successful bowler in ODIs and Tests, a former captain, and a national team coach. With profound experience in leading and mentoring the Indian squad, Kumble’s insights into the much-anticipated India-Pakistan encounters hold significant weight.
Steeped in the annals of cricket history, Kumble’s name resonates with extraordinary moments, particularly in contests against Pakistan. He famously etched his name in the record books with a historic 10-wicket haul against Pakistan, joining an elite league of cricketers to achieve this feat in a single innings. Such exploits underscore the intensity that surrounds India-Pakistan clashes, making Kumble’s recent perspective on the upcoming Asia Cup and World Cup encounters all the more noteworthy.
In a recent interaction, Kumble voiced the importance of adopting a pragmatic approach to these high-stakes battles. Reflecting on his own illustrious record against Pakistan, Kumble’s message resonates with a new generation of players. His tally of 81 wickets in 15 Tests and 54 wickets in 34 ODIs against Pakistan underscores his prowess in the most heated rivalries.
Recalling the aura of bygone eras, Kumble remarked, “In our times, the word was ‘lose even to Kenya but not to Pakistan.’ There was pressure and expectation on the players. That’s how the matches between India and Pakistan are being played, and the key is to treat it as just another match.” These words carry profound wisdom, encouraging the players to shift their focus from the weight of historical narratives to the essence of the game itself.
Kumble’s sentiments were shared during the launch of Pitchside, a memoir penned by veteran cricket administrator Amrit Mathur. The event was graced by the presence of former India batter and the current NCA chief, VVS Laxman, and former India wicketkeeper, Syed Kirmani.
Kumble’s remarkable 10-wicket haul against Pakistan continues to stand as a cherished milestone in his illustrious journey. “I did not go onto the field thinking of a 10-wicket haul, though that is the dream of any bowler. However, in the next Test match against Pakistan, the Asian Test Championship at Kolkata, I was struggling to take even one wicket. That is the game of cricket for you,” Kumble candidly revealed, underscoring the unpredictability that defines the sport.
Amidst discussions, Amrit Mathur, who served as India’s team manager during the 2004 tour to Pakistan, recalled the intricate security arrangements that accompanied the team during the trip. “Pakistan was ready to give any amount of security to us. There were police vehicles in front and behind our team bus, a helicopter above the team bus, Rapid Action Force in all major road points, and snipers atop buildings en route to the stadium, especially in Karachi.”
Reflecting on those security measures, Mathur added, “At one point, even players were feeling why we need so much security, but overall the tour went off well.” The reminiscences of heightened security juxtapose the exhilarating yet complex nature of India-Pakistan cricketing contests, emphasizing the multifaceted backdrop against which these battles unfold.