India's lionhearted champion
A bespectacled and studious-looking Anil Kumble makes his Test debut against England at Old Trafford in 1990. Bowling first-change, he takes 3 for 105 - his first wicket is Allan Lamb, caught at silly point for 38 - as England score 519. Goes wicket-less in the second innings, and does not play in the third Test. An inconspicuous entrance into Test cricket, and Kumble does not get another opportunity for two years.
November 29, 1992
Back in the Test side after a long gap, Kumble, with 6 for 53, dismisses South Africa for 252 in their second innings during the second Test in Johannesburg. Five of his victims are bowled, beaten either by his zip off the pitch or frustrated into playing across the line by his accuracy. The match is drawn, but Kumble has his reputation enhanced.
Plays his first home Test series, against England, and produces his first series-winning performance. He takes 21 wickets in three Tests, and establishes himself as India's front-line spinner. Opens the bowling in the second Test in Chennai - trapping Robin Smith leg-before for 17 - but it is his 6 for 64 in the second innings that really leaves a mark. Admits that the first delivery he taught himself was the flipper, the lethal ball that tends to embarrass the Test world's batting elite, and it is with this gem that he runs through England despite Chris Lewis' best efforts. Signals the end of Richard Blakey's England career, the substitute wicketkeeper handling Kumble as convincingly as "Phil Tufnell against Patrick Patterson", notes Lawrence Booth after Kumble's magical series.
His eight wickets in the match - including 5 for 70 in the second innings - helps India to an innings and 13-run victory over Zimbabwe in a one-off Test at the Feroz Shah Kotla, Kumble crossing 50 wickets in the process, in only his tenth match. After helping force Zimbabwe to follow-on, Kumble gives the ball a flip and takes centrestage.
Takes his first ten-wicket haul, in his 14th Test. Eleven wickets in the match, replete with his first seven-wicket haul, gives India a thumping win over Sri Lanka in Lucknow, and Kumble, 23, his first Man-of-the-Match award. Bounding in, shoulders arched and eyes ablaze with intent, Kumble is a sight to behold on the third and fourth days, sending down over after over of fizzing, ripping legspin that confounds the hapless Sri Lankans. Four vital scalps in the first innings forces the tourists to follow-on, only for Kumble to relentlessly continue his mastery - despite a bleeding nose and heat exhaustion - on the fourth day.
Takes his 100th Test wicket, that of Martin Crowe, in his 21st Test, in front of his home crowd in Bangalore. Complements his 4 for 39 in the first innings with 5 for 81 in the second, as New Zealand succumb for 233. His 100th, 300th and 400th wickets all come at this venue, much to the pleasure of the supportive Bangalore fans.
Undoubtedly Kumble's finest moment on the cricket field, becoming only the second bowler, after Jim Laker, to take all ten wickets in a Test innings, claiming 10 for 74 in the second innings against Pakistan in Delhi. Strikes decisively to dismiss Shahid Afridi and Ijaz Ahmed off successive deliveries after Pakistan, chasing a record 420 for victory, begin with a century partnership. Wasim Akram, the second man in the innings to survive a hat-trick ball, becomes Kumble's tenth victim by pushing a catch to short leg. History is made, and India gain their first Test win over Pakistan in 19 years. Modest as ever, Kumble jokes in an on-air interview following the incredible achievement: "As a bowler, everybody dreams of getting 10 wickets. My mum, whenever I go to see her, says 'Get a hat-trick, get a hat-trick', the next time it will be 'Get ten wickets'."
When he traps Matthew Horne leg-before in the second innings of the Kanpur Test, Kumble completes his 250 wickets - the fastest Indian to do so. Becomes the third Indian bowler after Kapil Dev (434 wickets in 131 Tests) and Bishan Singh Bedi (266 wickets in 67 Tests) and the 21st bowler (fifth spinner) in Test history to achieve this milestone. Playing to his strength and rarely offering any width to the batsmen, Kumble's 6 for 67 shatters New Zealand's top order in its second innings, setting India up for a clinical eight-wicket win inside four days. His match figures of 10 for 134 earns him another Man-of-the-Match award, and as India go on to win the series, Kumble is fittingly named the Man of the Series for his 20 wickets.
Nursing a broken jaw - heavily strapped around his jaw, over his head and across the back of it - Kumble takes the field on the third day of the fourth Test at St John's and sends down 14 numbing overs, dismissing Brian Lara lbw with one that rips from off. None can deny the efforts of Kumble, whose grit and resolve are there for all to see. The match ends in a tepid draw, and Kumble flies home - a hero, no less - to have his jaw sorted out.
Kumble, often derided for being ineffective in away Tests, takes 7 for 159 in the third Test against England at Headingley, as India win by an innings and 46 runs. In a fine fifth-day spell, Kumble provides the killer blows, removing century-maker Nasser Hussain and Alec Stewart, as India snuff out England's dream of a miracle escape by completing a series-leveling win. This performance comes as a forceful reminder to his critics as Kumble, who goes past Allan Donald's tally of 330 wickets, proves that he can win India matches abroad.
December 2003 - January 2004
Gets a chance to play the second Test against Australia after Harbhajan Singh is injured, and delivers one of his best performances, taking 24 wickets over three Tests as India draw the series. Inspired and inspirational on this tour, Kumble's spells in Adelaide - ignore the figures, his 5 for 154 reigns Australia in magnificently - and Sydney - where he almost single-handedly bowled India to victory on a final day dominated by Steve Waugh's farewell - are among the best by an Indian overseas. Throughout the series, Kumble demonstrated that he could be a potent a strike bowler overseas as at home, and it was befitting that one colossus (Kumble) claimed the other (Waugh) in a thrilling final day's play.
October 6, 2004
Takes his 400th wicket in his 85th Test, against Australia in Bangalore, bowling Simon Katich off the hip, becoming the first Indian spinner to do so. Pumping his fists and losing himself in the embrace of his team-mates, Kumble, before his home crowd, evokes a lasting image of a hero destined for this mark.
April 16, 2004
Four wickets on the fourth day of the third and final Test in Rawalpindi scripts India's first ever Test victory in Pakistan. With India's young pace brigade putting in a stunning performance on day one, Kumble is, surprisingly, left in the shadows. On the fourth day, however, he comes back for the kill, dealing swift, crushing blows at the death to submit the hosts to an emphatic innings and 131-run defeat. The series produces exciting cricket all the way and consistent performances from Kumble - who again tops the wickets tally for both sides - helps India break the barrier of a first overseas series win in well over a decade.
December 2, 2004
Kumble, in his 90th Test, equals Kapil's record of most Test wickets by an Indian bowler, against South Africa at Eden Gardens. Achieves the feat when he has last-man Makhaya Ntini caught by Rahul Dravid in the slip cordon for 12 to signal the end of the South African second innings, setting up another Indian victory on the fifth day.
December 10, 2004
Goes past Kapil as India's leading wicket-taker with the wicket of Mohammad Rafique, trapped in front, on the opening day of the first Test against Bangladesh at the Bangabandhu Stadium. Needing just one wicket to overtake Kapil before the start of the match, Kumble takes two to boost his Test tally to 436. Has a chance of a hat-trick after removing Tapash Baisya via a catch at first slip but Mashrafe Mortaza defends the fifth ball of his 12th over. Accolades pour in from current and former cricketers, including a congratulatory message from Kapil himself.
Six wickets on the final day in Kolkata scripts a splendid 195-run win over arch-rivals Pakistan, giving them a 1-0 lead in the three-Test series. Despite a belligerent onslaught from Shahid Afridi that propels Pakistan to an ominous start, Kumble holds his nerve to dismiss him just before stumps on day four, and returns the following day to skittle the tourists out for 226. Stands tall with ten in the match, his 7 for 63 being the standout bowling performance of the match. Once again, Kumble proves his match-winning capabilities at home.
December 14, 2005
Playing his 99th Test, Kumble takes ten wickets for the eighth time in his career, and hands India a comprehensive 188-run victory over Sri Lanka in second Test in Delhi. Goes past Muttiah Muralitharan as the bowler with the most caught-and-bowled dismissals with a stunning, session-turning return catch off Marvan Atapattu. Two more wickets on the final day signals a thumping win.
March 11, 2006
Becomes the first Indian and the fifth overall to take 500 wickets in Test cricket when he traps Steve Harmison lbw in the 2nd Test against England in Mohali.
July 2, 2006
Kumble bowls India to a history series victory in the Caribbean, 35 years after they last did so, under Ajit Wadekar. Takes 6 for 78 to bowl West Indies out for 219 as they chase 269.
At The Oval he goes past Glenn McGrath's 563 Test wickets, moving to No. 3 on the all-time list to accentuate his role in spin's golden era. In the same Test he knocks up a maiden hundred, one 17 years and 118 matches in the coming.
Takes his 600th wicket in the third Test against Australia in Perth.
Has a forgettable tour of Sri Lanka, where he picks up eight wickets at an average of 50.
In the Bangalore Test against Australia, he goes wicketless and a shoulder injury doesn't help matters. He sits out of the second Test and returns for the third, in Delhi. He suffers a finger injury and decides to call it quits on the fifth afternoon. He finishes his 132-Test career as the third-highest Test wicket-taker (619), behind Muttiah Muralitharan and Shane Warne.