Anil Kumble just had his 43rd birthday. He will be remembered for his services to Indian cricket with the ball and as captain of the test side. When we talk of performances, his 10-wicket haul against Pakistan is etched in everybody’s minds. Also his bowling spell after being injured in the jaw in the Antigua test during which he claimed the important wicket of Lara has been recorded in the annals of cricket as one of the best displays of perseverance and grit ever seen.
But few will remember his batting stints, quite a few of which helped India along in crucial moments. Here are 5 such batting performances by Jumbo that proved to be just what was needed by India at the stage of play.
5. 19* vs England (England in India, Gwalior, 1993)
Though low scoring, this cameo by Kumble was of utmost importance in giving victory to the Indians, who won by 3 wickets with 12 balls remaining chasing the English total of 256. India lost Prabhakar and Kambli early in their chase, following which Azharuddin and Navjot Sidhu held fort to take the score to 179 before the former fell to Devon Malcolm. Sidhu remained on the crease and went on to score a century, while wickets started tumbling on the other end, with the score reading 205/7 at one stage. This was when Kumble walked in and scored a watchful 19 not-out off 33 balls (just the kind of batting that was needed) to see India to the finish line along with Sidhu, building a 52 run stand for the 8th wicket. Kumble did not hit a single boundary but dealt only in singles and doubles to rotate strike to help secure a win for India.
4. 45 vs West Indies (India in West Indies, Jamaica, 2006)
In this particular instance, the only other batsman who got runs was Dravid who scored 81. India were reeling at 91/6 in the 1st innings with only Dravid and the tail left to bat. The situation demanded somebody who could support him in scoring the runs, and Kumble who walked in next did just that. They were involved in a 93-run stand (highest for the innings) that helped India get to a decent total of 200. Kumble hit 7 fours.
India went on to win the match, helped along by Jumbo’s heroics again in the 4th innings where he took 6 wickets to restrict the Caribbean total to 219, when they needed 269 to win. As a result of this win, India clinched the 4 match series 1-0 and it was their first series victory in West Indies in 35 years.
3. 58 vs England (England in India, Nagpur, 2006)
England had managed to get a huge first innings total of 393. In reply, only Jaffer and Dravid were able to get some runs under their belt from the top order, and the score read 190/7 at one stage when Kaif was there at the crease and Jumbo walked in. India were staring at a huge trail to follow after the first innings itself, but Kumble had other ideas. He played the supporting role, and strung a 128-run stand to help India get past the 300-mark. Kumble scored a half-century and hit 10 boundaries, favouring the region square of the wicket on the off-side and the third-man region.
Sourav Ganguly had not been picked for this particular test match, and the effect did show on India’s batting. But the life-saver partnership between Kumble and Kaif ensured that England did not get a huge 1st innings lead and the game which, many felt before this partnership, could have gone their way eventually ended in a draw.
2. 88 vs South Africa (South Africa in India, Kolkata, 1996)
South Africa had piled a magnificent total of 428, batting first in the 2nd test match of their India tour of 1996. India’s batting wasn’t up to the task, and Azharuddin, who scored a ton, was the only batter who got runs. India were once again in a spot of bother, when Kumble took the crease with the score reading 161/7. He stuck around, and both of them started building a partnership to save India from following on. They succeeded in doing much more than that- when Azhar got out caught & bold to Paul Adams, they had already doubled the team’s total. Kumble struck 13 boundaries.
This one South Africa went on to win by 329 runs because of superb batting in the next innings and some inspired bowling by Lance Klusener in the 4th innings who claimed 8 wickets to take away all of India’s chances. The 3 match series was levelled 1-1.
1. 110* vs England (Pataudi trophy, London, 2007)
When Kumble reached the milestone, this is what Harsha Bhogle had to say, “It is perhaps the most romantic moment of Indian cricket.”
It was that type of a test match where one side dominates the other from the onset itself. All of India’s batsmen chipped in with valuable contributions and the score was past 400 before Kumble came in to bat at no. 8. India had already got four 50-plus partnerships and a 100-plus partnership. But the best part of the innings was yet to come. It was a moment to watch when the 36-year old reached his maiden test ton with the 9 wickets down and last man Sreesanth at the other end. The Oval crowd gave a standing ovation to the veteran, who was experiencing his proudest moment on the cricket field as a batsman.
Kumble was unbeaten at 110 when the innings ended at 664 after a last wicket stand of 73 runs off 80 deliveries, he having stayed at the crease for the last 247 runs that were scored. He struck 16 boundaries, and also a six off Monty Panesar. The game ended in a draw, after England had got 369/6 chasing 500 to win. Kumble also claimed 5 scalps in the game, and was rightly given man of the match. As a result of this draw, India won the Pataudi trophy 1-0. Dravid was the winning captain and Zaheer Khan and James Anderson got the Man of the Series award jointly.