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Anil Kumble - Insight Edge

Apart from consistency on field, India need consistent policy, suggests Kumble

Wednesday, December 09, 2021
Winning formula

World number one, that’s a good place to be, isn’t it? I am really glad that the Indian team has reached such an exalted position and it is a credit to the entire unit. Almost two years back we sat down and planned for this day and so you can imagine the feeling among all concerned now that the task has been achieved.

Back then, we knew that in the next year-and-a-half or more we would play almost every team in the world, either home or away and so made a conscious effort to sit down and discuss the way to the top. Except for the West Indies and Bangladesh we were to play all the other teams, including Pakistan in Pakistan. While that series didn’t take place, our climb to the top started with the home series against Pakistan in 2007.

World number one, that’s a good place to be, I am really glad that the Indian team has reached such an exalted position and it is a credit to the entire unit. © AFP

The team goal was simple. We were fifth or so in the rankings then and we said to ourselves: “Let’s go out there and win every series from hereon as that is the only route to the top.”

A lot of people played a part in the uphill climb, with some exceptional individual performances only adding to the effort. It was not an easy ride by any means as time and again the team got out of pressure situations, sometimes for a well-earned draw and at times to go on and win too. Gautam Gambhir’s batting for almost two days to save the Napier Test against New Zealand, Virender Sehwag’s start during the run chase at Chennai against England, Sachin and Yuvi’s efforts in the same Test, Rahul, Sourav and Laxman’s holding the innings together time and again — these are prime examples of how the team fought back.

We always played as a unit, with the batsmen delivering with the ball at times and the bowlers with the bat at others. The other key to winning Tests is opening partnerships and there we were well served indeed. Viru and Gambhir have put on some really big stands and the issue here is that once your number three and number four batsmen are not made to come in too early, you always have the upper hand. Among the bowlers, Zaheer, who missed out due to injury when I was leading the side, has been exceptional.

Also it was always about consistency. And consistency is not just about what happens on the field. It has also do with consistent policy and here’s where the leadership played a big part, with the team going from strength to strength once MS Dhoni took over. When you are consistent in your decision-making and clear in your thoughts, even things such as luck with the toss goes your way. Dhoni’s contribution behind the stumps and in front of it has also been praiseworthy as has been the close catching, which always plays a key role.

Credit must be given to the support staff too. Although a couple of them, Venki and Robin, have had to go, each one of them played a part. Gary and Paddy have been really good with the team and their ideas have been well received.

What has also helped is the bench strength in recent times. In fact it has been quite unusual in that the people joining the team have come in with experience of having played a lot of ODIs already, and so were already used to handling pressure situations.

Going forward, I don’t see any reason why this team can’t hold the position for some time to come. There will be teams overtaking you, as the number of Tests played by each team is different, but the simple formula of continuing to focus on winning every Test and series still holds good.

Then again, let’s not look ahead too much. This is not a final that has been played and won. It has been a process that has borne fruit, and it is time to celebrate.