India v Pakistan, 3rd Test, Bangalore, 4th day March 28, 2005

Kumble's misery

On the Ball with S Rajesh and Arun Gopalakrishnan

Teams have often complained that it's virtually impossible to score runs when a bowler reverts to a round-the-wicket, outside-leg line, but Pakistan showed that if batsmen are willing to improvise, it's possible to score at a brisk rate even against such bowling. In their second innings, Anil Kumble, who had a miserable match with the ball, concentrated almost exclusively on a defensive line; yet, in 21 overs, he went for 88 runs.

The key was the batsmen's willingness, and ability, to manufacture shots. Out of 126 balls that Kumble bowled, 101 pitched on or outside leg stump, but the batsmen countered the Indian tactics by effectively employing the sweep shot - both the conventional one and the cheekier reverse sweep. Fourteen came from eight reverse-sweeps and 19 from 12 regular sweep shots - that's almost 38% of the total runs Kumble conceded. As the wagon-wheel against Kumble shows, despite bowling outside leg most of the time, he conceded 12 runs in the third-man region.

In the entire match, Kumble bowled 181 balls which pitched outside leg stump, that's more than 30 overs. It was the first time he took just one wicket in a Test since The Oval match against England in 2002, and only the second time he conceded more than 200 for a solitary wicket - the other time it happened was when Sri Lanka amassed that monumental 952 for 6 in Colombo in 1997. This is one home Test Kumble will want to forget in a hurry.