MUMBAI: The scene was almost surreal. Javagal Srinath was pitching the ball two feet outside the off-stump in an attempt not to get a wicket. Yes, it was in a Test; the same match in which Anil Kumble claimed the record 10 for 74. The year was 1999 when India took on Pakistan for the second match of the series at the Feroze Shah Kotla in New Delhi.
"After Kumble had got 7 wickets, everyone in the team took a decision not to try and take wickets. Let him try and get ten," said former India wicket-keeper Nayan Mongia, who watched the action up close from behind the stumps. "Before lunch, Pakistan had reached 100 for no loss but once the wickets started tumbling, they just kept falling."
Umpire A V Jayapraskash, from whose end, Kumble took each of those ten wickets remembers what it was like to be "part of history".
"After lunch, (Sachin) Tendulkar came upto me with Kumble's cap. And in the same over, Kumble got a wicket. So after that everytime Kumble came in to bowl, Sachin gave me the cap. After Kumble had taken nine wickets, I told Sachin, 'You have been lucky for so long, it won't happen again.' but Sachin gave it to me anyway and as luck would have it, another wicket fell," remembered Jayapraskash, who will be the third umpire in the match against Sri Lanka.
Mediumpacer Venkatesh Prasad bowled only four overs in the second innings, but he has some fine memories of the day and rues a missed opportunity. "Someone threw the ball up after the last wicket and it ended up with me. I put it in my pocket. Only when Kumble was looking for it later did I decide to give it to him. Maybe I should have kept it with me, it would have been a great memoir," said Prasad.