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Kumble joins elite 100th Test club

The leggie became the fifth Indian - after Kapil, Gavaskar, Sachin and Vengsarkar - and the world's 33th to join the club.

india Updated: Dec 18, 2005 13:17 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

Leg spinner Anil Kumble, after sending down 54,989 deliveries in first-class cricket since 1989 including 31,134 in Tests, joined elite 100th Test clubin the third Test against Sri Lankaon Sunday.

At 35, Kumble became only the fifth Indian - after Kapil Dev (131 Tests), Sunil Gavaskar and Sachin Tendulkar (125 each) and Dilip Vengsarkar (116) - and the world's 33th to join the elite club since his forgettable debut 16 years ago during a tour of England.

Kumble, a qualified mechanical engineer who publishes a sports weekly in partnership with his elder bother Dinesh in his home city Bangalore, is India's highest Test wicket taker with 478 scalps (28.02), and fifth in the all-time global list. He heads the Indian list in one-day internationals too, with 329 wickets (30.76), and occupies the sixth place in the world.

"Jumbo", as his friend and skipper Rahul Dravid nicknamed him, has, more importantly, won many Tests and ODIs - possibly more than any other Indian since the country started playing Test matches in 1932.

But Kumble's massive contribution in India's wins since his first comeback to the Test team on the 1992 tour of South Africa can perhaps best be judged by his mind boggling statistics, as he is not a person to boast of his yeoman service to the team.

Never a showman, Kumble, with his nagging consistency and never-say-die attitude, has snared 944 wickets in all first-class cricket since his debut for Karnataka in Ranji Trophy national championship in 1989-90.

The tally includes wickets captured for Leicestershire and Northamptonshire in two English county stints in mid-1990s. And the man who seems to have the stamina of a horse has signed to represent Surrey in the English county.

The best testimony to Kumble's willingness to bowl long spells, day in and day out, came during his stint for Northamptonshire in 1995.

He sent down an amazing 899.4 overs in just a few months - the maximum by any bowler that season-in county competitions, and was the lone bowler to reach the 100-wicket mark (105 at a good average of 20.40).

Bowling tirelessly was bound to take its toll on his broad shoulders, if not his legs. It did.

In 2000, Kumble, still recuperating after a successful shoulder surgery in South Africa, missed cricket for several months, including the first Test of new Test nation Bangladesh in November.

That long break came after he had snared 276 wickets, 10 more than the legendary left-arm spinner Bishan Singh Bedi's Indian record. The gutsy Kumble, however, returned to action, a tad more aggressive bowler.

A few years later, one foggy February afternoon in 1999 at New Delhi's Ferozeshah Kotla Stadium, Kumble etched his name in the record books by taking a world record 10-wicket haul in Pakistan's second innings to spin India to a famous victory.

It was only the second occasion in 128-year Test history when a bowler did that, since England's Jim Laker performed the feat against Australia in 1956.

When Kumble dons his flannels Sunday to step on to the Motera's Sardar Patel Stadium, Ahmedabad, for his 100th Test - also the third and final match of the series - he will have his eyes firmly fixed on the 500th wicket.

If he continues to bowl like he did in the second Test in New Delhi this week, capturing a 10-wicket haul in a Test on the eighth occasion, he is expected to touch that summit during the three-Test series in Pakistan in January-February.

Kumble has also bagged five or more wickets in an innings 30 times.

Kumble seems to be a contended man - on and off the field - and knows full well that his place in Indian - and world - cricket.

"I don't have to prove anything to anyone," Kumble has said. He is right.

First Published: Dec 18, 2005 13:17 IST