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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 December, 2004, 10:40 GMT
Kumble reaps reward for commitment
Ayanjit Sen
By Ayanjit Sen
BBC in Delhi

He has traded the leg-spinner's idiocyncratic flourish for the grim determination of a yeoman.

Tendulkar and Kumble celbrate wicket number 434
I've played alongside Kumble for the past 10 years; his dedication is remarkable
India captain Sourav Ganguly

His deliveries are darts, rather than butterflies.

But achievements have always spoken louder than actions for Anil Radhakrishnan Kumble, who on Thursday joined Kapil Dev as India's leading Test wicket-taker.

Shane Warne and Muttiah Muralitharan have taken their dual into new ground, both passing the 500-wicket mark this year.

But Kumble's feat is still remarkable, even in the era of vastly expanded Test schedules.

His 434th wicket came in his 90th Test - a full 41 fewer than all-rounder Kapil Dev.

It is 14 years since Kumble, then a bespectacled, 19-year-old engineering student, bowled his first overs of Test cricket, dismissing England's Alan Lamb.

Shane Warne (Aus) 552 wkts, 25.54 ave runs per wicket, 117 Tests
M Muralitharan (SL) 532 wkts, 22.86 ave, 91 Tests
Courtney Walsh (WI) 519 wkts, 24.44 ave, 132 Tests
Glenn McGrath (Aus) 463 wkts, 21.70 ave, 103 Tests
Anil Kumble (Ind) 434 wkts, 28.17 ave, 90 Tests
Kapil Dev (Ind) 434 wkts, 29.64 ave, 131 Tests
Richard Hadlee (NZ) 431 wkts, 22.29 ave, 86 Tests
In his 21st Test he took his 100th wicket, the 200th came in his 47th match, 300th in the 66th and the 400th in his 85th.

"It was a big milestone for Kumble. I'm very, very happy for him," said India captain Sourav Ganguly.

"I've played alongside Kumble for the past 10 years; his dedication is remarkable."

Critics say the 34-year-old has never been a huge turner of the ball but it is for his ability to achieve inordinate bounce that he has earned the nickname 'jumbo'.

He was also criticised in the past for not performing well abroad.

But he proved his heroism after breaking his jaw in West Indies and still coming out to play with his face swathed in bandages, when his team needed him the most.

Kumble in action in the West Indies in 2002
Kumble proved his courage bowling with a broken jaw
He is a factor in the Indian bowling attack that the opposition always fear for his ability to pitch the ball relentlessly in the right areas in the 22-yard stretch.

Coupled with that accuracy, Kumble makes subtle variations in speed and trajectory with a clever use of the crease, particularly on Indian soil, where cracks appear soon.

"It has been a long hard career - it took a lot of overs to get to 400," said Kumble when he reached that mark.

Once, he feared his international career might be over because of a shoulder injury in 2000-01.

He was out of the game for 20 months but came back strongly.

He is also the only bowler after Englishman Jim Laker to take all 10 wickets in an innings, achieved against Pakistan in Delhi five years ago.

Massive popular acclaim seems to have eluded this leg-spinner throughout his career but his numbers speak for themselves.

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