Anil Kumble reveals who he found toughest to dismiss during his 10-wicket haul against Pakistan in 1999

Legendary Indian spinner Anil Kumble said during his ten-wicket haul in an innings against Pakistan in February 1999, taking the wicket of batter Saeed Anwar proved to be the toughest part.
Anil Kumble. PHOTO: Twitter @anilkuumble1074

In his interview on Home of Heroes on JioCinema, former India captain Anil Kumble reminisced on his ten-wicket haul against arch-rivals Pakistan, which was the first-ever by an Indian and overall second and the moment he famously bowled with a broken jaw in the Antigua Test against the West Indies in 2002.

“I think Saeed Anwar (on his toughest wicket during the spell. He was batting really well – was I think fifty or sixty-odd and was looking comfortable. The first partnership of Shahid Afridi and Saeed Anwar – they had a wonderful one and got a hundred odd. We changed ends after lunch and got Afridi out. I know he sort of thinks that he did not nick it. But I guess no batter thinks than they did. That is how the game goes. So, got the breakthrough and then things started to happen. But Saeed Anwar was someone who was a brilliant batter. I mean, he had a lot of time. Even on that surface, he was middling the ball and I felt that was a challenge because I kept moving from over the stumps to round the stumps because I was starting to get a bit tired,” said Kumble.

“And I knew that on that surface because it was getting slower and low, I had to beat batters with pace and bounce. The only way was to give it everything and as I started to get sort of tired in my spell, then I came round the stumps because as a leg spinner, one thing is, when you go from over the stumps to round the stumps, then you sort of have to get your body behind the ball. Every ball for it to go the way you want it to. So, I started doing that and then the moment I did that and then I continued to bowl and then came back over the stumps then I knew that the body was again coming back, so that is how I got him out. And it bounced a bit short leg like Laxman took the catch. So that probably was the toughest one,” added Kumble.

Kumble revealed that he felt that it was his chance to get the 10 wickets when he had got his sixth scalp.

“I think at the end of six, it was a tea break. Yeah. So, I got a bit of a break and then seven happened. Saleem Malik got out of and then eight and nine happened in two deliveries of the fifth and the sixth ball so I knew that, okay, here is my chance. And Sri (Javagal Srinath) had to bowl that difficult over from the other end. I think it was the most difficult over because you sort of create your mind. You practice all the time to bowl to the stumps. And here you have to bowl wide enough, but not that wide and yeah, he almost got Waqar out, I think Ramesh almost took the catch. So, after that the next over I bowled, I knew that I had to get my tenth in that over. Otherwise asking Srinath to do it again (bowling wide) would be a bit of an embarrassment. So yeah, it happened and Waseem Akram decided that he was going to play the six balls, and would not give Waqar the strike. I do not think he played for the turn. Yeah, it is about just enough in that,” he said.
Kumble said his immediate reaction was of happiness as they had defeated Pakistan but when everyone came and carried him off the field, it felt special.

“I think the immediate reaction was – we won the game because the first one was very narrow, lost that by 12 runs in Chennai and this was a two-Test series. So, the first thing was, okay we won the test match and that’s it. And after that just got of course and everyone sort of came and picked me up and carried me off the field. It was something very special,” said Kumble.

Kumble though remarked that “cricket is a funny game” because just four days later, while India was playing the Asian Test Championship at Eden Gardens, it was Srinath who got eight wickets and he could get just one. He was not carried away by the emotions of the accomplishment because someone could have outperformed him in some other game.
“Cricket is such a funny game that it brings you back to earth very quickly. Four days later, we were playing the Asian Test Championship at Eden Gardens, Sri got eight in the first innings and I got one. So, I mean, that is what cricket is. So yeah, it does not give you the cushion that, okay, since you got ten the next game it is going to be a just bowl and things will happen. Does not work that way,” he said.

Kumble picked up his 10-wicket haul over his maiden Test ton.

“Obviously ten. Because 100 I do not think anybody expected. I simply had the belief because I had done it at the first-class level and I had done it at the junior level. It was just a matter of time,” he said.

Talking about his 4th Test against West Indies at Antigua in which he bowled with a broken jaw, Kumble said that he wanted to help India win the game no matter what.
“I think I was the only spinner in the playing eleven. I did not play the previous two test matches. I played the first one and then I was dropped for the next two and here I was coming back after the injury. After my shoulder injury, I played one series and then came back. Yeah so, I knew that I had to go and win the game. We had a chance with six hundred-plus runs on the board. Not many times, when you travel overseas you get that opportunity. So, I knew that if I could go there and then perhaps get a couple of wickets and put the team in a good position, we had a chance to win because I knew I was coming back home,” he said.

Kumble also recalled a conversation with his wife Chetna after the injury, during which he told that he would come home for surgery and told her that he would go out and bowl despite his injury.

“I told my wife, Chetna and I called her up. When we spoke, I said, look I know I have to come home because I just need surgery. So, she arranged for all of that in Bangalore and I knew that I was coming back the next day and as I dropped off the call, I just told her that look I’ll go and bowl, but she thought probably I was just joking. I went back to the dressing room,” he said.

“I do not think she even took it seriously. What is he saying? So, when I went back to the dressing room, I saw Sachin bowling because he was the only guy in the team who could bowl and then Wavell Hinds, I think was playing I do not remember somebody else was batting. And I thought it was my chance. I have to go and get a couple of wickets. If we can get West Indies three or four down, end of day two or three. I think if you can get them out, then maybe, we have a chance to win the game. That was the only thought. So, I told Andrew Leipus – get me out there,” he added.

In the second innings, while bowling with a broken jaw, he got the prized scalp of Brian Lara. The match ended in a draw. India lost the series 1-2.

Kumble revealed that he was on a liquid diet when he broke his jaw and it was wired and kept together.

“The doctor literally kept my lower jaw together by wiring inside a temporary wiring off from one tooth to the other side’s tooth – that kept it in one place. I do not know how many painkillers I had. I was on liquids. Even the liquids were not easy and West Indies there is no vegetarian. It was just the soup. No protein shakes,” he said.

On some of the toughest bowlers, he had bowled to, Kumble said that many of them were in his own team.

“Imagine bowling at Sachin, Rahul, Saurav, Viru, Laxman, all these guys in a match. It would have been a nightmare. Jokes apart had some wonderful batters whom I bowled against. Aravinda de Silva was a tough one and Brian Lara – he probably had three shots to every ball and he would change. You would think that you have got him. You would feel that you have deceived it and then suddenly you play a shot, which you cannot imagine and when you know that he had come forward, you have beaten him, and then he would just use the pace and then late cut for four and that was his quality. I think in every series, you sort of encounter a couple of tough guys who sort of are difficult. Jacques Kallis was someone who never, ever gave away his wicket. Inzi (Inzamam-Ul-Haq) was really tough and then I mean some of the left-handers were really – Matthew Hayden was someone who was imposing. We knew that getting him out LBW was out of the equation. So yeah, I think you know in terms of challenging players but you accept it, some days you get the better of them. Some days they get the better of you,” he said.

On his win-from-every-situation mentality, Kumble said that it was always there.

“I think it was always that. I never thought of myself as someone who was making a debut as a youngster. So, he needs to get his two wickets and then be in the next game. I never thought about it. I never thought like that. Never. I always believe that. Look, I am playing a game here. I am playing what I love. This is my bowling, and I think I can get the team through. Irrespective of whether I was playing the first match or the last match. I was there to get wickets and that’s how it was,” the former India cricketer, nicknamed ‘Jumbo’, said.



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