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Kumble eyes record 500th wicket

He would be keen to reach the landmark in the second Test starting on Thursday.

india Updated: Mar 08, 2006 12:43 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

Anil Kumble is just four 'high-fives' away from becoming the first Indian and the fifth bowler to reach 500 Test wickets— and the leg-spinner would like to achieve the feat in the second Test against England startingon Thursday.

Kumble, 35, would be having butterflies in his stomach as he needs four more wickets to reach the landmark that would put him in the elite company of leader Shane Warne of Australia (659 wickets), Sri Lanka's Muttiah Muralitharan (593), Australian Glenn McGrath (542) and retired West Indies speedster Courtney Walsh (519).

It will be Kumble's 105th Test after having made his debut against England in Manchester in 1990— which makes him the second senior most player in the Indian team after Sachin Tendulkar, who made Test debut in 1989.

Of the nine countries that Kumble has played Test cricket against, Australian batsmen have been his most favourite target. He has claimed 88 wickets in 14 Tests against the country. And in 14 Tests against England, he has bagged 64 wickets at 32.08.

In 104 Tests, or 132 innings, Kumble has bowled 32,781 balls and bagged 496 wickets at an average of 29.01. He has bagged five wickets in an innings 31 times and had 10-wicket match hauls eight times.

And, in 264 one-day internationals, Kumble has captured 329 wickets at 30.76. He has also taken four wickets in an innings eight times and had five-wickets hauls on two occasions.

Kumble has virtually made a habit of proving people wrong when out of form.

Although he scored 58, he took just two wickets for 189 in the drawn first Test against England in Nagpur. He would again be keen to get back to the wicket taking mode and get the monkey of 500 wickets off his back at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium where he has so far bagged 27 wickets in six Tests.

Bangalore-based Kumble has been one of India's biggest match winners. His forte has been his nagging accuracy rather than the huge turn, something that his contemporary leg-spinners like Warne are masters of.

For someone who bowled fast before switching to leg-spin, Kumble has travelled a long way.

Kumble, a qualified mechanical engineer, has had many memorable moments. But the one that will top his list has to be his 10-wicket haul in Pakistan's second innings to spin India to victory at the Ferozeshah Kotla ground in Delhi in February 1999.

It has been only the second instance in the 128-year Test history when a bowler had captured all 10 scalps in an innings. The only other instance had occurred in 1956 when England's Jim Laker performed the feat against Australia in Manchester.

The start of Kumble's Test career was, however, not all that rosy as statistics might suggest now.

After an ordinary debut against England in Manchester in 1990, Kumble was dropped. The axing forced him to seriously think about quitting for a career outside cricket.

Then, probably in one of his last attempts to resurrect his international career, Kumble played for the Rest of India against Ranji Trophy champions Delhi in the 1992 Irani Trophy tie in New Delhi. The match turned out to be the biggest turning point of his career. He captured 13 wickets and was picked on the performance of that match for the epochal tour of South Africa.

Kumble performed well in South Africa and, as they say, has not looked back.

First Published: Mar 08, 2006 12:43 IST