I am extremely happy about Indian Cricket Team winning the first Test against Pakistan at Delhi. They have proved that they are stronger team in the match by driving home the advantage on 4th day. Till then they have been constantly giving back the advantage to the opposition whenever they used to get it. Anyway, I would like to focus on the man who captained the Indian Team and led from the front, deservingly winning the Man of the Match award - Anil Kumble.
He has been my hero ever since he has been playing for India. We (Kumble and I) have a few things in common. Our ancestors are from the same place i.e. Kumble in Kasargod District of Kerala. This explains where he derived his surname from. He was a Mechanical Engineer from RVCE, Bangalore. Even I aspired to be a Mechanical Engineer but circumstances forced me to be a Computer Engineer from SJCE, Mysore. Javagal Srinath was the alumnus of my college. We share similar personal traits like being humble, honest, maintaining a low key, quiet or being anything but flamboyant or flashy or swashbuckling, one who tries to control only what one can do than what others can do for us, dedicated to work, let the performance do the talking. The magnitude of successes that we achieved may be different. One who bears all the pains and still doesn't react. Because of this we were considered pushovers or walkovers. Bowling wise, I liked to be a Leg-spinner while Kumble might still aspire to bowl genuine leg-spin!
Kumble was never considered as captaincy material. He has played under captains who were younger than him or who had less experience than him. He never openly sought captaincy, nor played any politics to get the post. He has always stayed clear of all controversies. Sachin, Rahul, Sourav and even Sehwag have all become captains ahead of him. He has cooperated and gave his 100% (or more) under all of them. After Rahul resigned and Sachin refused Dhoni was tipped to be Team India's new captain. But better sense prevailed with the selectors and chose the right man Anil Kumble to be India's 30th Test Captain. What a gesture that can be to the 37 year old man who has played 118 matches, taken 570 wickets and scored 2000 odd runs.
I have seen a one-day match when he led India against England at Chennai in 2002. Of course India won that match. After putting England to bat, he attached right from word go. Once a few wickets fell, he never let the hook off, having men within the 30 yard circle even after the field restriction was over. Made the right bowling changes and restricted England to around 200. Till then I never belieeved that a captain can make so much difference to the unit. He kept all the men on their toes throughout. The team mates respect him so much for what he is. Unfortunately, it was only a stop-gap arrangement when Ganguly was injured.
A few highlights on Kumble
* Only living cricket to have a street or circle on his name. We have Anil Kumble Circle at the end of famous Mahatma Gandhi Road in Bangalore.
* Only second bowler to take all 10 wickets in an innings of a Test Match
* 3rd highest wicket taker in Test History and by far the highest Indian wicket taker.
* Biggest Match winner for India,
- India has won 41 tests which Kumble has played.
- Kumble has taken close to 300 wickets in those tests (half the wickets in third of his matches)
- 10 "Man of the Match" Awards, joint highest for India with Sachin Tendulkar.
* Loves Big Occasions
- Got his 100th, 300th and 400th wicket at his home ground Bangalore
- Got 9 wickets in his 100th Test at Ahmedabad to help his Team win the match and series against Sri Lanka. He won the Man of the Match and Man of the Series
- Won his first match as captain and also the Man of the Match award for taking 7 wickets
* Best bowling effort by an Indian in One-day (6-12) and Tests(10-74)
* Leading wicket taker for India in Tests (570) and ODIs (334)
* Only centurion in the whole of 3 test tour to England which India won.
* Missed the entire home series against Australia when Harbhajan took 32 wickets and India won the 3 test series 2-1. Just an exception when India has won even in the absence of him. But what people don't know is that he was mentoring Turbonator on how to bowl to Ausrtalia.
* Indians are known/proved to be poor fielders, had they not dropped catches he would easily had 100 more wickets by now and won far more matches.
* His selflessness can be summed up with a picture of him bowling with a broken jaw and trapping the greatest batsmen Lara in a dead Test at Antigua.
* Warne and Murali are rated as better spinners compared to Anil but in the series between India and Australia and India and Srilanka, Kumble has always out-performed the two. Warne though is a great bowler has 2 advantages 1) He plays for Australia 2) He doesn't play against Australia.
* An interesting point of view that came in newspapers after the Delhi test was that Saurav was given the 2nd new ball and was used quite often. Although Saurav during his captaincy in ODIs has under bowled Kumble. What a forgiving man he is.
* He has been constantly criticized for not spinning the ball. Opposition batsmen have taken him lightly although it worked to his advantage. Nasser Hussain as captain of England Team used to advice his players to treat Kumble as a medium pace bowler.
We all know how greatest bowlers like Warne and McGrath retired, by sweeping series 5-0 against their arch-rival England. So I wish his team-mates bid farewell to his illustrious career by sweeping a series thereby leaving on a high.
I write this just after the First Test is over and it is too early to decide about a person after just 1 match. This series itself is far from over. Then we have a toughest tour of Australia coming up. So, one can really judge Kumble after that. But so far so good!