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Kumble hopeful of West Indies glory

India's highest wicket-taker talks about the upcoming Caribbean Test series.

india Updated: May 25, 2006 15:38 IST

Leg-spinner Anil Kumble is hopeful that India can atone for previous near misses by scoring a rare overseas victory in their Test series in the West Indies.

However, India's highest wicket-taker warns the home team cannot be taken lightly despite their slide to eighth in the Test rankings. The four-test series starts on June 2.

"It is going to be a tough tour, but I'm looking forward to it. The last couple of overseas tours I've been on, we came close to winning the series but couldn't make it," he said.

"Hopefully this time we should be able to do that," he said from his hometown Bangalore.

India have a poor record in the West Indies, winning just three of the previous 38 tests and one out of eight series. India are bidding for their first major overseas test series victory since beating England 2-0 way back in 1986.

The 35-year-old will leave on Thursday night on his third test tour of the West Indies, where his experience could prove vital in a largely young bowling line-up.

"They will always be tough with Brian Lara at the helm and their batting is pretty strong. We need to put pressure on their batting by getting runs," he said."

"If we can do that then definitely we should be able to do well in the series."

He brushed aside criticism of India's modest overseas test record.

"We've been winning matches abroad," he said. "We did beat Australia in Australia who were the number one team."

"I don't think any other Indian team did that, beating the number one team on their home ground."

He was referring to India's creditable 1-1 series draw against the champion side in 2003-4, after India had rallied to draw in England a year earlier.

Kumble loomed a big threat in the deciding final test in Sydney before captain Steve Waugh steered his team to a draw on his farewell appearance.

Kumble finished with 24 wickets from three tests on that tour to silence critics who had questioned his effectiveness playing away from slow pitches at home.

India also led on their previous West Indies tour in 2002 before losing 2-1. "We have come close so we have a great chance," he said.

Kumble, test cricket's fifth highest wicket-taker with 510 scalps, enjoyed contrasting fortunes on his two previous Caribbean tours.

He took 19 wickets in 1996-97 although India went on to lose the five-match series 1-0. His second tour ended in agony.

He took just two wickets in the drawn first test in Guyana to be dropped for the next two as India picked off-spinner Harbhajan Singh as the lone spinner.

Kumble returned for the fourth test in St.John's, Antigua, but suffered a broken jaw after being hit by a Mervyn Dillon bouncer.

With his face swathed in bandages and in pain, he still bowled to claim Lara's wicket before flying home for surgery.

He said playing in the one-day series would prepare the young bowlers for the tests. West Indies lead 2-1 with two games left.

"After I land, we will have a chat about how to go about bowling at their team," he said.

India's most successful one-day bowler (329 scalps) has endured disappointment after rare appearances in limited overs cricket since the last World Cup.

"It has been two months since I last played an international match," he said. "But you spend time with your family, keep training and keep yourself motivated."