The national selectors sprung a late-night surprise on Thursday and named Anil Kumble captain for the upcoming three-Test series against Pakistan.
The announcement, which was delayed by several hours, was shorn of any drama - MP Pandove, joint secretary of the Indian board, had a dour look and a flat voice as he broke the news after he had gone through the announcement of an unchanged squad for the next two ODIs - but it meant the selectors had avoided the simpler path of plumping for Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the ODI captain and favourite for the Test job, and instead backed the dark horse Kumble. It also meant India would, for the first time, have separate captains in Tests and ODIs.
Kumble is probably one of the very few cricketers who has become a captain after having played 118 Tests. He follows in the footsteps of Karnataka team-mate Rahul Dravid, who resigned from the captaincy for both Tests and ODIs in September. While appointing Dhoni - the captain of the successful Twenty20 team in South Africa - for the ODIs against Pakistan, the selectors had sounded out Sachin Tendulkar for the Test captaincy. However, Tendulkar's refusal made Kumble the outsider in a two-horse race with Dhoni the favourite.
"It's a great honour ... it's something every cricketer dreams of," Kumble told Cricinfo soon after the announcement was made. "It wasn't much of a surprise, though, because I thought I came pretty close to it when I was vice-captain."
Asked about his relationship with Dhoni, Kumble said: "It's a great asset to have somebody like him behind the stumps - even when he was just the wicketkeeper and I was just a bowler we used to communicate clearly. We'll definitely complement each other."
It was a typically straight answer from Kumble who told Cricinfo yesterday he would do the job if asked to. "I don't know what the big deal is, why so much is being made of this. I have said this before also."
At 37, Kumble is the oldest member in India's current Test line-up. His 566 Test wickets are the most after Shane Warne and Muttiah Muralitharan. Kumble had served as vice-captain of the team before, but has led India once, in an ODI against England in 2002.
He retired from ODIs following the World Cup earlier this year in the West Indies.