DateLine: 5th June 2008
He is not a regular leg spinner but even then he has won India more test matches than any other bowler, or player for that matter. With a bowling speed that is associated more to a medium pacer than a spinner, armed with grit and determination, with just a hint of extra bounce and turn, he has foxed many a batsmen. Indeed, his favourite mode of dismissal is the LBW. No wonder, modern-day batsmen remark that there is no more difficult challenge in cricket than handling Kumble on a wearing surface.
Such is the resolve of the man that be it health or sickness, Kumble has always come forth for his team. His kitty is now swelled with more than 600 wickets and at age 37 he aspires to break the 700 wicket target, becoming only the third spinner after Shane Warne and Muttiah Muralitharan. His record speaks volumes about the mental strength of the man, who has had to withstand scathing attacks on his ability by critics, throughout his career. The most stand out moment came in Antigua in 2002 when he bandaged his fractured jaw to deliver a stirring spell, and this only adding to the sterling performances in away wins in Headingley, Adelaide, Multan and Kingston, using an improved googly, bigger sidespin and more variation in flight and on the crease. All this came about after he missed a whole season in 2000-01 with a shoulder injury that threatened to cut short his career.
However his most brilliant moment came before he got injured. In 1999, in a spellbinding effort, he scalped all ten Pakistani wickets to establish a world record, emulating only Jim Laker before him. In 2007, on his last tour to England, he fulfilled another of his dream as he scored a test ton at the Oval, becoming the only Indian to score a century in the three test series.
Less than a month after his 37th birthday, he received the ultimate honour when he was named India's Test captain for the home series against Pakistan. He went on to win the series, the first home triumph against Pakistan in 27 years, before playing a big role in holding the side together during the controversial series in Australia, winning at their stronghold, Perth. He was picked by the Bangalore Royal Challengers to play for them in the IPL.