October 17, 1970, Bangalore, Karnataka
Right hand bat
No bowler in history won India more Test matches than Anil Kumble, and there probably hasn't been a harder trier either. Like the great tall wristspinners Bill O'Reilly and his own idol BS Chandrasekhar, Kumble traded the legspinner's proverbial yo-yo for a spear, as the ball hacked through the air rather than hanging in it and came off the pitch with a kick rather than a kink. The method provided him stunning success, particularly on Indian soil, where his deliveries burst like packets of water upon the feeblest hint of a crack, and more than one modern-day batsman remarked that there was no more difficult challenge in cricket than handling Kumble on a wearing surface.
Kumble's prodigious capacity to bear pain was proved in Antigua in 2002 when he bandaged his fractured jaw to deliver a stirring spell, and that to continuously learn in the mid-2000s when, after a decade of middling away performances, he influenced memorable wins in Headingley, Adelaide, Multan and Kingston, using an improved googly, bigger sidespin and more variation in flight and on the crease.
In a brilliant though always downplayed career Kumble claimed virtually every Indian record. In 1999 in Delhi he swallowed all ten wickets in an innings against Pakistan. In December 2001, on home turf in Bangalore, he became the India's first spinner to take 300 Test wickets. A year later, almost to the day, he became the first to do so in one-dayers. In August 2007 at The Oval he went past Glenn McGrath's 563 wickets and in January 2008 he broke the 600 barrier, to stand behind only Shane Warne and Muttiah Muralitharan, emphasising his contribution to spin's golden era. And at The Oval he chalked up what, judging by the pure ecstasy of his reaction and the dressing room's, was perhaps his most cherished feat of all - a Test century that had been 17 years and 118 matches in the coming.
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. He was also India's leading wicket-taker with 20 in the four Tests.
His form, however, slipped during the tour of Sri Lanka and there were calls for him to quit after a wicketless performance in the Bangalore Test against Australia. A shoulder injury added fuel to the fire and an upset Kumble reacted sharply, saying that he had it in him to continue for a while longer. However, he changed his mind during the Delhi Test and announced his retirement, fittingly at his favourite venue. He finished his career as the third-highest Test wicket-taker (619), behind Muttiah Muralitharan and Shane Warne.
After his international retirement, Kumble continued to be actively involved in the game. In 2010, he was elected president of the Karnataka State Cricket Association and served a three-year term in that capacity. In 2016, he was appointed head coach of India, just before the team's Test tour of the West Indies.
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