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Last Updated: Monday, 5 January, 2004, 10:49 GMT
Kumble stands tall again
By Oliver Brett

Anil Kumble leads his team-mates off the SCG
I didn't expect anything less from him in the series - Anil will never let you down
Indian vice-captain Rahul Dravid on Anil Kumble

When Harbhajan Singh burst onto the scene two-and-a-half years ago, Anil Kumble's position as the top slow bowler in Indian cricket was in danger of being usurped.

But by taking an eight-wicket haul in the deciding Test of the series against Australia, he has re-asserted his status once again.

When Ajit Agarkar grabbed a difficult chance at deep backward square leg to dismiss Nathan Bracken off Kumble's bowling, the 33-year-old had taken his 378th Test wicket in his 81st match to stand 10th in the all-time list.

He had also taken his 23rd five-wicket haul, the same number achieved by fellow Indian Kapil Dev, in 50 fewer Tests.

The Sydney Cricket Ground has long proved a happy hunting ground for spinners.

John Emburey, Allan Border, Shane Warne and Stuart MacGill (twice) have all taken seven-wicket hauls in the last 20 years.

But Kumble's 8-141 was the first instance since the 19th century that anybody had taken eight wickets.

He enjoys taking generous hauls of wickets.

In February 1999, the man from Bangalore took all 10 wickets in Pakistan's second innings as India comfortably won the match.

Then things took a turn for the worse.

TOP WICKET-TAKERS IN TESTS
Anil Kumble
CA Walsh (WI): 519 in 132
SK Warne (Aus): 491 in 107
M M'tharan (SL): 485 in 85
Kapil Dev (Ind): 434 in 131
RJ Hadlee (NZ): 431 in 86
GD McGrath (Aus): 431 in 86
W Akram (Pak): 414 in 104
CEL Ambrose (WI): 405 in 98
IT Botham (Eng): 383 in 102
A Kumble (Ind): 378 in 81
MD Marshall (WI): 376 in 81

After featuring in a side that was whitewashed in Australia and, unthinkably, at home to South Africa, Kumble spent 20 months out of Test cricket with a shoulder injury.

In the interim, Harbhajan, a raw but talented off-spinner, had filled the void in brilliant fashion by taking 28 wickets in two Tests to win the home series against Australia.

Ever since then, Kumble has never had an automatic place in the side. Harbhajan, for instance, began the Test series in Australia as the only spinner.

But when he was injured at the Gabba, Kumble stepped in with five wickets in an innings in Adelaide, six in Melbourne, and now eight in Sydney.

What is most admirable about Kumble is he has achieved lasting success without developing a large number of 'mystery' balls.

Former England captain Nasser Hussain has often said that against modern batsmen spinners have to include them in their repertoire.

But Kumble simply alternates between the top-spinner and the more conventional leg-break spinning away from the bat.

The top-spinner completely did for England in the first Test of their 2001 tour and was too hot for both Ricky Ponting and Damien Martyn in Sydney.

Honour

And despite the fact he is no longer the first flush of youth, Kumble also rarely tires during long spells on unforgiving wickets.

Rahul Dravid, Indian vice-captain, says: "It's been an honour for me to be in the same dressing-room as Anil for all these years and watch him go about his work in his own quiet way.

"He's faced a lot of criticism, people have questioned his ability, but Anil shows that when it comes to experience and quality, there's not too many better than him."

As far back as October 2002 Kumble felt moved to scotch retirement rumours after taking 5-30 in a win against West Indies.

And he is unlikely to be in any mood to call it a day with the 400 Test wicket milestone on the horizon.



Links to more Aus v Ind stories


 

SEE ALSO
Kumble on the sidelines
23 Mar 03  |  India
The responsibility of Kumble
21 Jun 02  |  England


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