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WATCH | That Was the Biggest Match of My Career: Kumble on 1996 WC Quarter-Final

GK: You touched upon this, maybe I can jog your memory to ’96, ’99, ’03 you were quite a central figure in all of these games. Are there moments from these games that you still think back and cherish very much?

AK: Like I mentioned, the first time I played Pakistan in a World Cup was in my hometown. So that was a big game. Simple fact, home world cup, lot of expectations, we’re playing the quarter-final, we scored 280, then you have to defend. So, for me, that was the biggest match that I was involved in because they got off to a good start, Aamir Sohail and Saeed Anwar got off to a great start. And I remember Saeed Anwar’s catch of Srinath, he tried to go over mid-on or mid-wicket I think, top edge it came up. So, I said no, I have to take this catch now. I took that and then picked up 3 wickets. Salim Malik, I think I got LBW and then a couple of wickets later on.

So, you know as a bowler you want to be in the game, you want to make that difference, you want to create opportunities for your team. So irrespective of whether it was Pakistan or anybody else, in a World Cup you want be that one person who would make the difference, no matter what, in the field, with the bat, with the ball. So, you try and create because you don’t know whether you’re going to play the next World Cup, no matter what your age is. It could be, you could be 20 and then you could be playing your first World Cup. You could be 35 and you could be playing your last World Cup. Probably play one more, who knows. And then the other aspect of any World Cup is, you’ll never have the same 15 playing the next World Cup. So, it’s a great opportunity to create history, to create lots of memories. So, I’m really glad the 2011 team created the wonderful memory of going there and winning the trophy.

GK: And beating Pakistan along the way in a semi-final.

AK: So I think you know those kind of memories will last forever.

GK: Venkatesh Prasad is a very close friend of yours and you’ve followed his cricket throughout your life. That moment with Aamir Sohail in ’96 itself gets talked about a lot and that was very out of character, this was not the usual Venkatesh Prasad that you would see. Does he often talk about that?

AK: He’s a pretty aggressive bowler but then I think what happened prior to that incident where Aamir Sohail, you know, stepped out and then hit that boundary through covers and then told Venky (Venkatesh Prasad) that look, look at that. Next ball I’m going to do that again. And then immediately the next ball Venky got him out. So that triggered, it comes out, I mean, you’re looking at some sort of a push sometimes, it happens from your own team-mates, sometimes it happens from the atmosphere that you’re in, sometimes it happens from the opposition where somebody does something and then it, you know, tend to bring the best out of you. So, it all depends on the situation but that’s talked about, yes.

GK: 2003 also, I want you to briefly touch on simply because you played a lot of cricket with Sachin Tendulkar. But from all of the great batting you saw from him, that innings against Pakistan, where do you place it?

AK: It was exceptional because one, the pressure of the game itself. Then the quality of attack that Pakistan had. Shoaib Akhtar, Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis. Then you had the spinners and it was not played in India, it was played in South Africa. So, we needed a good start, we knew if we had to chase it down, you wanted Viru (Virender Sehwag) and Sachin and Sourav to give you a great start. Sachin took it on and I think he faced the first ball, hit Wasim for a boundary and straight away started to that six off Shoaib and it changed.

It rattled the Pakistan bowlers, they realised that this is going to be hard and I remember before the start of the World Cup, I think it was the first game Sachin didn’t open the batting. He batted at four. And against Australia as well I think in the second game he batted at four and then he changed to opening the batting. That’s where he should have played. From the beginning, he wanted to open the batting, he wanted to win matches and for me that innings certainly ranks on top of the list.

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