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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 April, 2004, 11:03 GMT 12:03 UK
Kumble revels in second coming
By James Standley and Oliver Brett
BBC Sport

Anil Kumble appeals for a wicket
Kumble was at his best as India beat Pakistan in Multan
Anil Kumble's performance as India claimed their first-ever Test win in Pakistan confirmed his status as their number one spinner and one of the finest bowlers of all time.

During the match the tall leg-spinner passed English all-rounder Ian Botham's total of 383 Test victims and now stands ninth in the all-time list.

Kumble collected eight wickets in the match as India beat Pakistan by an innings and 52 runs, including 6-72 in the second innings.

It was the 24th five-wicket haul of his career, beating the Indian record set by former captain Kapil Dev.

And it capped a remarkable revival by the 33-year-old, whose career had to be put on hold for 20 months by an injury which at one stage threatened to force him into early retirement.

During that hiatus Harbhajan Singh burst onto the scene and became India's new spin bowling darling.

But, ironically, it was a hand injury suffered by the 'Turbanator' which enabled Kumble to become India's main man once again.

Pakistan c India b Kumble
Indian Express headline

They performed magnificently on their recent tour to Australia, drawing the Test series 1-1, and it was Kumble who proved their most potent weapon with 24 victims.

Half of them came in the final match in Sydney where he took 8-141 in the first innings, a performance he has bettered on one notable occasion.

It was in February 1999 that Kumble confirmed himself as the natural heir of India's spin bowling greats like Bedi, Chandrasekhar, Prasanna and Venkat by taking all 10 wickets in an innings against Pakistan in Delhi.

He was modest about his achievement in emulating England's Jim Laker.

"As a bowler, everybody dreams of getting 10 wickets. My mum, whenever I go to see her, says 'Get a hat-trick, get a hat-trick', the next time it will be 'Get 10 wickets'," he joked.

Kumble's shoulder problems in 2000-2001 were no laughing matter, however, and it took time, following his comeback in South Africa, to regain the zip and confidence he had exhibited in the past.

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

TOP WICKET-TAKERS IN TESTS
Anil Kumble
CA Walsh (WI): 519 in 132
SK Warne (Aus): 517 in 110
M M'tharan (SL): 513 in 88
Kapil Dev (Ind): 434 in 131
RJ Hadlee (NZ): 431 in 86
GD McGrath (Aus): 430 in 95
W Akram (Pak): 414 in 104
CEL Ambrose (WI): 405 in 98
A Kumble (Ind): 390 in 82
IT Botham (Eng): 383 in 102
MD Marshall (WI): 376 in 81

When Kumble returned he was no longer first-choice and when India flew to Australia late last year, Harbhajan began the Test series as the only spinner in the Test XI.

His injury problems opened the door to Kumble and he has not looked back since then.

He picked up five wickets in an innings in Adelaide, six in Melbourne, and then eight in Sydney, and he has carried his fine form into the massively-important Test series against neighbours Pakistan.

Kumble has achieved lasting success without developing a large number of 'mystery' balls and simply alternates between the top-spinner and the more conventional leg-break which spins away from the bat.

What is unique about him is that he bowls much quicker than most other spinners. Add in his height and the bounce that he generates, plus his accuracy and stamina, and you have the recipe for success.

With his place in the team once more secure and 400 Test wickets looming ever nearer, Kumble looks set to continue harrying opposition batsmen for a while yet.




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