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India’s ‘biggest’ domestic event triggers a new chapter in Anil Kumble’s career

Wednesday, April 01, 2022

Gearing up for IPL

Arun G

Bengaluru: Four months since he called time on a magnificent international career, Anil Kumble was back on the cricket field on Tuesday. With the Indian Premier League less a few weeks away, preparations are in full swing, with all teams gearing up for what has is now the most coveted title in domestic cricket on Tuesday.

And it wasn’t different with the Royal Challengers Bangalore – the Vijay Mallya-owned outfit. The RCB squad has been training hard at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium over the past fortnight, and are now in their last stretch of preparing for IPL II – they are playing a series of warm-up games to get into the match-mode before boarding the flight to Johannesburg on April 6.

Kumble’s appearance in a practice match on Tuesday was his first compettive match since calling time on his international career back in November 2008.

When he took the field at the start of the match, it was a familiar sight for all those who followed Kumble all through his career; the body language, the mannerisms, it was all the same. He settled down at slip at the start of the match, but perhaps because thoughts and memories were running thick and fast through his mind, he dropped a sitter very early in the match.

When he came on to bowl, it was like revisiting a career once again; he was bowling on a pitch that he must by now know like the back of his palm, and one that he has bowled more overs on than any other cricket ground on the earth. After the customary warm-up, Kumble was at the top of his run-up. And lo, what does one expect – a ball, bowled at good pace, and in line with the middle stump. Karnataka batsman CM Gautham, in the line of fire, only managed to bring his bat down in time, and the ball raced away to fine leg for a single. Next up, Ishank Jaggi, perhaps unmindful of the fact that he was facing a bowler who had close to 1000 international wickets, charged down the ground but miscued it straight down the throat of man at mid on. Third ball, Karan Sharma drove to mid on. Fourth ball, fired in full on the leg stump, the batsman swept and picked up a single to get off the strike. Ball five, Kumble bowled his stock delivery – the one that fetched him so many wickets in his career; Gautham first came down the track, and after realizing he had misread the length, tried to go onto the backfoot, but was beaten by the pace of the delivery and had his stumps rattled – one has seen so many such dismissals through Kumble’s career.

After this second wicket, Devraj Patel – the wicketkeeper – realized quickly that it would be wise to don a helmet while standing up to Kumble – and so out came the helmet. Ball six, full delivery on off stump, and Robin Uthappa drove it to cover to end Kumble’s first over – what an eventful first over it was.

Here’s a commentary of Kumble’s second over:

6.1: Kumble to Karan Sharma, bowled short on the leg stump, Sharma rocks onto the back foot and swings across the line to pick up a boundary through midwicket.

6.2: Kumble to Karan Sharma, good length delivery on the off stump, hurries onto the batsman, cuts it straight to the man at point.

6.3: Kumble to Karan Sharma, tossed up on the leg stump, Sharma attempts to sweep, doesn’t make contact.

6.4: Kumble to Karan Sharma, good length delivery, Kumble gets some bounce, Sharma was coming forward to defend, the ball hits the makers name and rolls away through point; batsmen pick up a single.

6.5: Kumble to Robin Uthappa, full delivery on the leg stump – fired at good pace – Uthappa gets his front foot outside the line of the off stump and tries to sweep; is beaten by the pace and has his leg stump uprooted – WICKET

6.6: Kumble to B Akhil, good length delivery on middle stump, going on with the arm. Akhil defends down the wrong line, is rapped on the pad in front of middle stump, with his bat besides his pad. Dead duck – that’s LBW. – WICKET

Another eventful over, and two wickets in almost trademark Kumble style. At the end of his second over, his figures read 2-0-7-4 – wasn’t this supposed to be a Twenty20 match?

In his third over, he conceded a boundary (off the leading edge) and a six (slog sweep over midwicket). In terms of drama, Manish Pandey was beaten once in that over, and he just about got his bat down in time to keep away a yorker fired in. Figures at the end of the over – 3-0-19-4.

17.1: Kumble to Manish Pandey, full delivery fired on leg stump, tries to make room and play inside out, yorks himself.

17.2: Kumble to Manish Pandey, one run

17.3 Kumble to Raju Bhatkal, yorker on the middle stump – through the defences of the batsman - woodwork rearranged – enough said about that – WICKET

17.4: Kumble to Bharat Chipli, no run

17.5: Kumble to Bharat Chipli, full delivery on the leg stump, worked away to midwicket for a single

17.6: Kumble to Manish Pandey, short delivery, pulled to long off for a single

Despite appearing in his first competitive match for four months, Kumble - all of 38 years old, and playing a format of the game that has been labelled a 'young man's game' - had ended with outstanding figures of 4-0-22-5 – the first five-wicket haul in a series of competitive matches played by members of the Royal Challengers Bangalore squad.

They say some traits come natural to certain individuals – how true that is as far as Kumble is concerned!