Tuesday, 4 November, 2008

Jumbo: The silent assassin

B D Narayankar

RENOWNED FOR his ten wicket haul in a Test innings against Pakistan in New Delhi in 1999, becoming only the second bowler to achieve the feat after Englishman Jim Laker; his best one-day performance was six for twelve against West Indies at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata during the Hero Cup tournament in 1993. He is the leading wicket-taker for India and the third highest in the world with 619 wickets from 132 tests and 337 from 271 one dayers.

Yes, we are talking about Anil Kumble, Jumbo as he was known in the cricket world, who hung his boots up on the final day’s play of the third Test of Border - Gavaskar trophy played at Feroz Shah Kotla.

Kumble had been a true ambassador of cricket. He certainly did not spin the ball as prodigiously as the great Aussie leggie Shane Warne did but he was a bowler of his own kind. He was famous for his nagging line and length and the lift he used to get on any pitch. He was more in Bhagwat Chandrashekhar’s mould.

Warne could be a great competitor and most aggressive spinners of all times, but Kumble too was not far behind. What is striking about Kumble is that he is a great ambassador of cricket. It was reflected in his 18-years-long international career when he only once pushed his way into the match referee’s room in the infamous Sydney Test. The one-liner statement which he made after the Test in a press conference defines what Jumbo is all about - he had said only one team was playing in the spirit of the game.

There had been a number of occasions when Warne had overstepped the code of conduct, but Kumble did not slide himself into that orbit. He never even passed banter, leave alone resorting to sledging. This quality of Jumbo certainly makes him bigger in the cricket world than Warne. Patience and perseverance are two of the most important elements for a spinner’s success and present abundantly in Kumble’s character.

His ability to raise the morale of the team especially when the chips are down played a pivotal role in some of the team’s notable performances. Who can forget the 2002 Test against West Indies at Antigua where Kumble came out to bowl with a broken jaw and heavily bandaged around the face or more recently the first Test of the Border - Gavaskar Trophy at Bangalore where after suffering a shoulder injury he came back to bowl just hours later, leaving everyone awe-struck. Further still, he took a catch running back of Mitchell Johnson, caring little for the 11 stitches on his left hand in the third Test at Feroz Shah Kotla stadium.

His workaholism was well drafted when he tirelessly bowled 72 overs in a Test innings against Sri Lanka at Premadasa stadium in Colombo, in 1997. In this inning Sri Lanka scored 952 runs in 271 overs in reply to India’s 537 in 167.3 overs and the match ended in a draw.

Kumble has broken numerous records in his nearly two decades long uncelebrated career. In 2001, he became the first Indian spinner to capture 300 wickets in Tests and went on to achieve the landmark in one-day cricket just a year later. Earlier this year, Kumble became the first Indian bowler and only the third in the world behind Muttiah Muralitharan and Shane Warne to take 600 wickets in Test matches. The icing on the cake came at The Oval as he put together a well crafted century, a feat which he later described as one of the most cherished moments of his life.

After Sunil Gavaskar, there came Sachin Tendulkar. After Kumble, there certainly is somebody waiting in the wings of his calibre to fill up the void. But sheer calibre and skills will not make him slide into Kumble’s shoes. The successor can only be so called when he plays cricket the way Jumbo played - a thorough gentleman. Let’s salute for the last time this ’silent assassin’ from Bangalore for laying down his gun.

Source: Meri News

Sunday, 2 November, 2008

Kumble's retirement overshadows drawn test

B D Narayankar

As the match headed towards an end, all focus shifted to a giant who carried all the adulations and criticism on his shoulders with right spirits. He always had been a true ambassodor of cricket. We are talking about a player who has been a great competitor and yet never overstepped the line of conduct. Anil Kumble, added a poignont note to the boring drawn match by announcing his retirement from international cricket.

Kumble's sudden announcement overshadowed Australia's brilliant fightback in the test after India thrashed them by 320 runs in the previous game to take a 1-0 lead in the four-match series.

Continuing with his form, VVS Laxman made yet another half-century (59 not out), after making an unbeaten double century in first innings of the third test of Border-Gavaskar series played at Feroz Shah Kotla stadium. Saurav Ganguly, alongside Laxman, remained unbeaten on 32 before Kumble declared India's second innings, leaving Australia to chase an improbable 245-runs target.

Early in the morning Sachin Tendulkar and Gautam Gambir provided resistence to the Australian attack which looked on the top after removing Rahul Dravid for 11.

Australian openers Mathew Hayden (16 no) and Simon Katich (14 no) played out eight overs to reach 31 for no loss before the match was called off. Fittingly enough, Kumble opened the bowling for the last time in his 19-years career at his favourite Kotla ground.

Kotla had been an happy hunting ground for Jumbo who picked up 58 wickets in seven Tests played here, and the most memorable performance being a 10-wicket haul against Pakistan.

In his illustrious career, he snapped 619 wickets in 132 tests playing for India. The last ball of his career was a full toss to Hayden who dispatched the ball straight to the fence.

The close of play brought emotional moments to the fore as members of the Indian cricket team - Zaheer Khan, Rahul Dravid and his successor Mahendra Singh Dhoni - carried Jumbo, taking a lap of farewell round Ferz Shah Kotla.

Australian bowlers bowled sharp spells to back skipper Ricky Ponting's field placements against a defensive-minded Indian batsmen as any mild hopes of a result ebbed away after lunch.

Brett Lee (2-48), Stuart Clark (1-22) and Mitchell Johnson (1-23) earlier put in dangerous spells, bending their backs in a last despairing effort to wrench a result from a pitch that did not deteriorate as both captains expected it would. However, Lee showed sparks of his old fire to return two for 48.

Allrounder Cameron White (1-23) was not employed by captain Ricky Ponting until the match had been virtually decided, but he bowled tidily when given the chance and dismissed Tendulkar for the second time in the series with a rare ball that turned.

The teams now travel to Nagpur for Thursday's final Test, with India holding a 1-0 lead.

Saturday, 1 November, 2008

Dropped catches melt India's winning chances

B D Narayankar

Until last evening, it was an Indian win all the way when they put a mammoth total of 613 for 7 in their first innings. They were expected to rip apart the Aussies with frontline spin bowlers on a pitch which was turning and bouncing. But, sloppy fielding of the Indians poured water on the chances of pulling off a series win against the visitors.

The butter-fingered hosts dropped Michael Clarke three times. He was first spilled on 31 by Ishant Sharma who failed to bucket a simple catch at mid-on off leggie Amit Mishra. Late in the post-lunch session, Clarke was dropped twice in his 90s with VVS Laxman failing to latch on to a sitter off Virendra Sehwag and Mishra flooring another in the bowler's next over.

Clarke, capitalizing on the floored opportunities, scored an all-important 112, steering Australia out of the hole on the fourth day of the third Border-Gavaskar test series against India being played at Feroz Shah Kotla stadium on November 1.

Clarke, who scored 151 on his Test debut against India in Bangalore in 2004, also shared a 73-run stand with all-rounder Shane Watson (36) to frustrate a tiring Indian bowling attack.

Clarke, 27, stroked six fours and a six for his eighth Test hundred and also shared a 106-run stand with Cameron White (44), leaving the tourists just 36 runs behind India's first innings total.

Sehwag, India's only triple-centurion, had something to cheer. He finished with career-best figures of 5-104 after sending down 40 overs on a wicket which started taking prodigious turn from day three, while Anil Kumble, who was criticized for his wicketless showing in Bangalore, had 3-112 against his name.

White hit five fours and a six off leg-spinner Anil Kumble in his cameo 95-ball effort.

India, who were sitting pretty until last evening to clinch the series at the Kotla, now have a huge task cut out to shore the game. They cannot sit on their first-innings laurels. The overnight batsmen Gautam Gambhir and Rahul Dravid, have to see off the morning session with caution.

The Aussies had something more to cheer about when they removed dangerous Sehwag (bold Brett Lee) and night-watchman Ishant Sharma (caught Ricky Ponting bold Stuart Clark) in India's second knock.

With two wickets already down, the Australians would be fancying an outside chance with a flurry of wickets early tomorrow. However, their task too is difficult as the wicket has not deteriorated as much. With only a 36-run lead to cheer about, repeating Mohali fireworks does not look like a possibility. As of now, the test is heading towards an anti-climax end.

India II Innings

India 43-2 (13) Runs Balls 4s 6s SR
G Gambhir not out 21 44 2 0 47.73
V Sehwag b Lee 16 17 2 0 94.12
Ishant Sharma c Ponting b Clark 1 2 0 0 50.00
R Dravid not out 5 15 1 0 33.33
VVS Laxman
S Ganguly
MS Dhoni
*Anil Kumble
Zaheer Khan
S Tendulkar
A Mishra
Extras: 0 ( b:0 lb:0 nb:0 w:0)
Total: 43-2 (13) | Curr. RR: 3.31

FOW: V Sehwag (29-1, 8.2), Ishant Sharma (34-2, 9.1)

Australia O M R W Nb Wd RPO
B Lee 6 1 19 1 0 0 3.17
S Clark 5 2 16 1 0 0 3.20
M Clarke 1 0 3 0 0 0 3.00
S Katich 1 0 5 0 0 0 5.00

Australia I Innings

Australia 577-10 (179.3) Runs Balls 4s 6s SR
M Hayden lbw b Sehwag 83 154 13 1 53.90
S Katich b Mishra 64 116 9 0 55.17
*R Ponting b Sehwag 87 165 13 0 52.73
M Hussey b Sehwag 53 146 7 0 36.30
M Clarke c Khan b Mishra 112 253 6 1 44.27
S Watson b Sehwag 36 62 7 0 58.06
B Haddin st Dhoni b Kumble 17 35 1 1 48.57
C White b Sehwag 44 95 6 1 46.32
B Lee lbw b Kumble 8 47 0 0 17.02
M Johnson c and b Kumble 15 12 2 0 125.00
S Clark not out 1 2 0 0 50.00
Extras: 57 ( b:28 lb:17 nb:10 w:2)
Total: 577-10 (179.3) | Curr. RR: 3.21

FOW: S Katich (123-1, 34.1), M Hayden (202-2, 57.2), *R Ponting (284-3, 85.4), M Hussey (326-4, 102), S Watson (399-5, 122.1), B Haddin (426-6, 131.5), C White (532-7, 162.5), B Lee (555-8, 175.4), M Clarke (567-9, 178.1), M Johnson (577-10, 179.3)

India O M R W Nb Wd RPO
Zaheer Khan 23 5 86 0 2 0 3.74
Ishant Sharma 25 6 84 0 1 2 3.36
*Anil Kumble 43.3 10 112 3 1 1 2.57
A Mishra 47 12 144 2 3 1 3.06
V Sehwag 40 9 104 5 0 0 2.60
S Tendulkar 1 0 2 0 0 0 2.00