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Dhoni is still Anil’s choice

- ‘We didn’t have the bowlers to take 20 wickets in England and Australia’
Anil Kumble at the Netaji Indoor Stadium, on Saturday. A Telegraph picture

Calcutta: Team India may have faced the ignominy of losing eight Test matches on the trot overseas, but Anil Kumble does not want Mahendra Singh Dhoni be removed as captain. Kumble, who was the guest speaker at the EduQuest, organised by the Anandabazar Patrika, said Dhoni has done a “fair bit of work” to remain as the Test captain.

“True we lost eight matches overseas but I do not think we need a change of guard right away. In the last four years, he has done a fair bit of work,” Kumble said, on Saturday.

Kumble, however, felt that Gautam Gambhir’s IPL success as Kolkata Knight Riders captain should augur well for the Indian team. “Twenty20 and Test cricket are a different ballgame altogether. But having said that I think Gambhir has proved his credentials. He also batted well and that meant he was not bogged down by the burden of captaincy. It’s a good sign.

“I always believed leadership is not just the responsibility of one man. To be successful you need a core group. Gautam has been part of that core group. Now, with his IPL success, he must have cemented his place in that group.”

Kumble said he was frustrated to see India’s dismal performances in England and Australia. “It’s difficult to digest… Defeat is acceptable when you know your opponents were better. But not when you are the No. 1 Test team in the world. India have a group of individuals who are world-class players.

But still we could not perform well. In Test cricket, you have to bat well and then bowlers will have to take 20 wickets. I was disappointed by the way our bowlers bowled. We didn’t have the bowlers to take 20 wickets.

“The last time we got a hiding was in 1999-00 against Steve Waugh’s Australia. We lost the series 0-3 and managed to win only one match (versus Pakistan) in the tri-series. These two losses were somewhat similar to that. I think we should take this as a wake-up call and prepare hard. Given the talent we have, it’s a matter of time before we start winning again.”

The Karnataka State Cricket Association president said he would like to see Sourav Ganguly as a cricket administrator. “I would love to see Sourav as a cricket administrator. Given his vast experience and knowledge of the game, Indian cricket will only be benefited.

“Look when I decided to become an administrator, there were snide remarks. People thought I would be a complete disaster. But in the last two years I have proved everyone wrong,” he said with a smile.

For the students, who turned up in hordes at the Netaji Indore Stadium to listen to the former India captain giving his insight, it was a memorable day.

For over an hour Kumble, looking dapper as he’s always been, held the centre stage talking about how he incorporated things he learnt as an engineering student in his playing style.

“During exams I always started with the questions I knew the answers of. That generally gives the examiner an impression the student is good. Then I used to go for the questions I am not 100 per cent sure of.

“While bowling, I did something similar. I was not a vicious turner of the ball like say Shane Warne or Muttiah Muralidharan. So what would I do to earn a batsman’s respect?

“Whenever a new batsman was at crease I used to throw everything I had in my armoury. That used to unnerve the batsman and at the back of the mind he would have thought ‘well, he means business’. If he survived the torrent, then I used to take some calculated risks. Believe me… it has worked ever since I made my debut.”

Kumble also urged the students to defy the convention. “Do not get satisfied easily. Work hard to chase your dreams. Make choices and strive to reach the next level.”

Well, Kumble is one of the few in contemporary India who with “limited talent but loads of self-confidence and enterprise” reached the peak.