Photo: BCCI

Anil Kumble was announced as the Director of Cricket Operations and Head Coach for Kings XI Punjab ahead of the 2020 VIVO Indian Premier League, in what promises to be a measured path of success for the franchise. caught up exclusively with the legendary leggie to dig deeper into his new role and to get a hint on what could be established ahead of next year's tournament.

Q. You are now a member of the Kings XI Punjab family, so we would like to know what has been your biggest connect or a special memory with Punjab.

Anil Kumble: I have played quite a few Tests at Mohali and it is special for me because I got my 500th Test wicket at the ground (against England, in 2006). We have obviously seen how well the support is for the team at both home and away games, and I am looking forward to experiencing that and starting a new innings with Kings XI Punjab.

Q. How did the process of becoming the coach for Kings XI Punjab come about?

Anil Kumble: Satish (Menon - KXIP CEO) approached me to ask me if I would be interested in taking up the role. The call put a thought in my mind and I deliberated over it for a couple of months before agreeing to take it up.

Q. What do you make of Kings XI Punjab as a team going forward?

Anil Kumble: I think it is a great challenge and an opportunity for me to get involved in the IPL again. I have seen Kings XI Punjab from close quarters when I was involved with other franchises as a player and as a mentor. It will be nice to work with the owners and some of the players, and I am hoping to make a significant contribution with the team, so looking forward to the challenge.

Q. What do you think will be the most challenging part of your role?

Anil Kumble: The team has not won an IPL title as of yet, so that is our main goal. In terms of the biggest challenge, we have seen in the recent past that the start has been good for Kings XI but after a couple of losses, the momentum shifts. We have been close to qualifying but we miss out by small margins. So it's important to keep the momentum over 14 games and have a sustained performance for the team to make it to the last four, where it's anybody's game.

Q. You are hailed as one of the best thinkers of the game. How do you plan to get your strategies to the fore to KXIP?

Anil Kumble: It is important to put together a proper structure and my role would be to get players ready for the challenge and make sure they are up for it. The support staff can help in terms of strategies, ensure players achieve success and that they are in the right space so to go there and play freely. That's important in a T20 competition because the IPL is such a format that every game is a close finish and that all the eight teams are closely matched. There's not much difference between the sides, so it's just a matter of how well you can perform on a particular day. It is always a roller-coaster ride, it's not that easy, we have seen that over 12 years of the IPL. To achieve success, it is important to keep calm and back the players, who win you the competition at the end. The strategy-making will start later, as we approach the start of the season, because the players have international and domestic commitments right now and we need the whole group together for a definitive plan.

Q. Your first order of business as coach will be the IPL auctions in December. Are you looking to target any kind of player?

Anil Kumble: We will look at the balance of the team first, and identify areas where we need more reinforcements. There are some names we are discussing but a proper team plan will be put in place later.