The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Playing in Pakistan an education: Kumble
- FIRST TEST IN MULTAN - Star leggie returns to Team India, exuding confidence

Multan: Locals call this the City of Saints, but few in this region are either more hot or dusty. Faisalabad, of course, will definitely run Multan close... It’s in this setting that Anil Kumble is going to play his first Test (match, actually) in Pakistan.

India’s most successful spinner hadn’t made his debut when the last full-fledged tour took place, in 1989-90, and wasn’t picked for the short ODI series eight years later. He couldn’t make it for the just-ended ODIs as he was recovering from a bowling shoulder strain.

“It’s good to be back, though I haven’t bowled (in a competitive game) for over a month and-a-half... But, one has to adjust at the highest level and I’m confident of doing so quickly,” Kumble remarked on Friday afternoon, after the first workout here (at an admittedly splendid stadium) ahead of Test No. 1.

The leggie continued: “Playing in Pakistan is an education and, hopefully, we will take back many happy memories... In any case, we should cash in on the confidence gained by winning the ODIs...”

Agreeing that conditions tend to be quite similar to home, Kumble made the point that “playing overseas anywhere” is a challenge. Asked whether he had been working on a Pakistan-specific variation, he replied: “Not really... Variations are important but, for now, I’m largely looking to getting into rhythm.”

That may mean big trouble for Inzamam-ul Haq’s team: After all, in his last Test series (Australia), Kumble picked up as many as 24 wickets in three matches.

Clearly, post-Australia, expectations are even higher. Kumble, however, isn’t one to get weighed down. “I’ve always tried to live up to my own expectations... If I’m only going to think of what the others expect, then I’ll be putting myself under needless pressure,” he said.

Kumble, incidentally, saluted Shane Warne for a phenomenal comeback after being banned for a year: “He has shown the character of a champion... In fact, he has done so over and over again.”

Talking to The Telegraph, Kumble confirmed that wife Chetna is expecting their first child “very soon.” Smiling, he added: “Yes, it’s a terrific feeling but, believe me, I won’t be distracted.”

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s highly-rated leggie Danish Kaneria, who bagged 12 wickets in the 2001-2002 Multan Test versus Bangladesh, acknowledged that Team India will be an entirely different proposition. Yet, he is “ready” to snare arguably the best line-up currently in business.

The first Test begins on Sunday.

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