India's Anil Kumble steals the spotlight from Shane Warne

By Narayanan Madhavan

14 October 1996

NEW DELHI, Sunday - India's Anil Kumble on Sunday stamped himself as a worthy challenger to Shane Warne for the title ``Sultan of Spin' with a mesmerising display of leg-break bowling to destroy Australia's top-rated batting line-up.

Kumble, who had the centre stage to himself with Warne absent through injury, finished with match figures of nine wickets for 130 runs in India's crushing seven-wicket victory over Australia in their one-off test in New Delhi.

Leg-spin bowling is enjoying a renaissance with four bowlers jostling for the master's title -- Warne, Kumble, Pakistan's Mushtaq Ahmed and Sri Lanka's Muttiah Muralitharan.

``I am glad I have delivered the goods,'' Kumble, 26 next Thursday, told Reuters after the match, following a lacklustre English tour.

Kumble and Warne are both key weapons in their team's bowling arsenal but the similarities appear to end there.

The tall, bespectacled Banglorean stands in stark contrast to the chubby, well-built Victorian.

He flights and turns the ball sparingly, while his googlies and flippers are not as visible as those of the Australian.

Warne, a far more vicious turner of the ball, would probably have been at his deadliest on the dry, cracking pitch at the Feroze Shah Kotla ground.

Kumble does not seem to relish the comparison.

``It is difficult for him to bowl like me and difficult for me to bowl like him,'' he said last year. ``Comparisons just creep in but I feel we are different.''

Kumble's nine-wicket haul in New Delhi in his 27th test took his tally of test wickets to 123 at a cost of 3,126 runs, for an average of 25.414.

On Sunday he completed his seventh five-wicket haul in a test innings with five for 67 in Australia's second innings.

The wrist-spinner returned best figures of seven for 59 in one innings and 11 for 128 in the match against Sri Lanka in Lucknow in 1994.

In this year's World Cup held in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, Kumble was a leading wicket-taker with 15 victims.

Kumble has been an asset to India, even in one-day matches, where spinners are sometimes seen as easy targets.

``In one-day games, all you have to do is be accurate,'' Kumble said. ``You have to bowl according to the situation. In the last couple of years I have bowled in the slog overs.''

Kumble took his 100th one-day international wicket in the World Cup semifinal at Bangalore, where he also took his 100th test wicket against New Zealand last year.

Kumble is not worried by criticism that he does not turn the ball enough.

``It takes only three inches to get a nick,'' he said. ``You don't have to get a yard.''

Kumble, a medium-pacer at school, has a quick action and concentrates on restricting runs.

``At his speed he can't turn it that much,'' Indian cricket writer Harsha Bhogale said.

Former Indian manager and captain, Ajit Wadekar, believes Kumble is an oddity among spinners.

``He is a kind of a freak. He is a thinker,'' Wadekar said. ``Most important, he is hard working and serious.''

Kumble's love of precision may have something to do with his training as a mechanical engineer.

He is also extremely health conscious and when he played county cricket in England last year he took along his parents to help with his vegetarian diet.

He credits his stint with Northamptonshire for helping him become more disciplined and professional.

Source: The Daily News

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Date-stamped : 25 Feb1998 - 15:05